Of all the high-profile upcoming openings around town, Alain Giraud's Santa Monica brasserie, to open in the Clocktower building in Santa Monica, is one of the most exciting. When Giraud's deal with the owners of Falcon was announced back in January, Giraud hoped to open late summer, and he planned to serve lunch and dinner.
Just returned from vacation in France, Giraud filled us in on the brasserie's progress. The look, he says, will be classic brasserie, "brass, with wood, copper, banquettes, mirrors on the columns, et cetera. The restuarant will have to look as good at lunchtime as at dinnertime." It'll need to look good early in the morning too -- Giraud plans to open at 7 a.m. for breakfast.
As for the menu, "I'm still working on it," he says. "I want to base part of the menu with everything from the farmers market, to follow the seasons. I expect it to be a little bit traditional, plat du jour, appetizer, easy to understand." Dishes like steak tartare and poulet de la rôtisserie come to mind, he says, for the traditional offerings. "A brasserie menu never changes," he says, "and to add seasonal dishes has to be done very carefully." He'd like people to try things, though -- "sweetbreads, kidney. But I have to see how many we'll be selling."
While in Lyon lately, Giraud says, he was impressed by a couple of brasseries. He loved the vegetables at the one at Hotel Centrale. "All the vegetables were perfectly cooked, amazing." Did he glean any ideas he might use? "The steak tartare at Brasserie Georges," he says. "They make it tableside, but because it's so crowded, they do it right on the table, which was nice."
Late-summer opening plans turned to mid-October. But now it seems the Clocktower won't be turned over to the team until mid-November. "What it means is we have Thanksgiving, then after that December. The problem will be the staff. If they work in a nice place, you don't leave a place during the holidays. So that means January." Giraud plans to be at the restaurant "six months, eight months, all the time." After that he plans to open his own signature restaurant.
And finally: What will be the brasserie's name? "Ahem, ahem! Deadline for the name is soon!" says Giraud. "I think we give a different name to the restaurant each week. It's an embarrassing question. We have maybe 200 names. I like 'Brasserie du Marché,' but the accent on the E is a problem. I love 'the Clocktower,' but nobody likes it. 'Clocktower Brasserie!' 'Brasserie Brasserie!' If you think of a good name, call me!"
-- Leslie Brenner
Photo by Brian Vander Brug