If you come to a fork in the gastronomic road, take the one that leads to The Spoon Trade.
Since serving its first meal on Aug. 14, the Grover Beach restaurant has become a destination for diners seeking fresh, from-scratch, farm-to-table fare.
Located less than a block from Highway 1 on West Grand Avenue, the eatery’s tasteful décor centers on the open kitchen where chef Jacob Town and his staff efficiently work their magic.
Town is one of three owners of The Spoon Trade, along with his wife, Brooke Town, and Patrick Bergseid. The dynamic trio met several years ago while working at the Cracked Crab restaurant in Pismo Beach.
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The Towns and Bergseid independently migrated to the Bay Area for about a decade of restaurant jobs, adding considerable experience to their industry résumés and keeping in touch.
All of them coincidentally moved back to the Central Coast in the fall of 2014. Their serendipitous return has resulted in The Spoon Trade.
“Jacob and Brooke had been talking about having a restaurant for a long time,” Bergseid said. Jacob Town jokingly acknowledged that “it’s been a five-year goal for about 15 years.”
Brooke Town’s experience at a San Francisco restaurant with tripartite ownership provided a model to tip that goal into reality.
“It just made sense,” she said, adding that each of the three Spoon Trade owners brings a different, and crucial, set of skills to the table, “so it’s a good dynamic.”
Town’s bailiwicks are hospitality and bartending, while her husband has the culinary chops. Bergseid’s strength is finance, and he’s also well-seasoned in service and bartending.
The team was squarely on the same page when developing the locally sourced menu for The Spoon Trade, which is open for dinner Thursday through Tuesday, and for Sunday brunch.
“We wanted a place where we wanted to eat every night,” Jacob Town said.
As a result, the focused menu successfully straddles the line between classic comfort food and upscale cuisine, with ingredients and presentations changing almost daily to take full advantage of seasonal bounty. (Check the restaurant’s chalkboard for a partial list of local purveyors.)
Recent dinner offerings ran the gamut from a grilled cheese sandwich with potato-garlic soup, grilled octopus with salsa verde and a cheeseburger and handcut fries to a center-cut pork chop, housemade fettuccini with baby broccoli and the restaurant’s now-signature tri-tip tartare.
To top off the meal were desserts of decadent brown-sugar pot de crème, stone fruit upside-down cake and a root beer float topped with cocoa nibs.
For brunch, which The Spoon Trade bravely launched on Easter morning, the menu typically includes standards such as housemade biscuits and sausage gravy, blueberry pancakes and eggs benedict with crispy potatoes. Other options might be waffles with peaches and cream, duck confit tamales with poached eggs or a kale and cauliflower salad with anchovies.
The beverage program is equally inventive, with cocktails crafted out of beer, bubbles, vermouths and sherries. Enjoy a dry vermouth Dizzy Bee with lavender honey and lemon, a dry sherry mule with ginger beer and bitters, or a brunch-time Fancy Bubbles with cava and freshly squeezed seasonal citrus juice.
Though several imported labels are available, the wine list is largely “California-centric,” Brooke Town said. It’s impressive for a restaurant this size, as is the by-the-glass list, and there are ten draft beer options as well.
Another aspect that puts The Spoon Trade a cut above is the restaurant’s freshly baked Grover Beach Sourdough bread. Warm mini loaves with butter are available at dinner, and all the sandwiches are served on the bread. Burgers don’t get short shrift here either — they’re snuggled in housemade sesame buns.
“Our bread program is really at the heart of the restaurant,” Jacob Town said. “We got our own sourdough starter going about two years ago, and now we’re baking at least 30 to 45 loaves daily.” He proudly noted that “we’ve never bought a loaf of bread here.”
The Spoon Trade
295 West Grand Ave., Grover Beach
805-904-6773 or http://thespoontrade.com
Hours: Dinner is served 4 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday, and 4 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday; brunch is 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; closed Wednesday.
The scene: A welcoming, energetic vibe that works for weeknight dinners, gathering with friends or special occasions; seating is available outside on the glassed-in patio, or indoors with several options, including at the bar or a long, family-style high-top table.
The cuisine: Farm-fresh, from-scratch fare is showcased in classic favorites as well as upscale dishes; bottled and draft beer and wine available. There’s a kids menu available at dinner.
Expect to spend: $20 to $30 dinner; most brunch items are easily under $20.