For just about 3 yrs, the iconic facade and tiled flooring of The Prolific Oven Bakery internet site in Palo Alto lay vacant, however renovations hinted at the opening of Ethel’s Extravagant, a restaurant with a noteworthy pedigree.
In January 2020, the Foodist wrote about the announcement of the venture and recapped chef and owner Scott Nishiyama’s distinguished occupation, which features stops at Daniel, The French Laundry and Yoshi’s and keeping the executive chef role at Mountain View’s Chez TJ (not to mention a diploma from Massachusetts Institute of Technology ).
Just after a life span connected to these prestigious names and two years of pandemic-connected delays, Nishiyama will before long open his own cafe in downtown Palo Alto. It was scheduled to open up on July 27 but could not get all the inspections done in time.
“I am a minor hesitant to convey to everybody about the spots I’ve labored. At this place in my job, I don’t care for that kind of expertise any longer. I have a tendency to want to do anything a lot more enjoyable and informal,” Nishiyama stated.
Ethel’s Fancy honors Nishiyama’s mother and grandmother, both named Ethel. He credits his mother’s cooking in the course of his childhood in Hawaii and outings to his grandmother’s kitchen area counter in Oregon for exposing him to distinct cuisines. He grew up with the two sticky, shorter-grain Japanese rice and the creamy texture of risotto.
Dwelling in a fraternity the place the brothers cooked for them selves, Nishiyama very first envisioned a culinary profession whilst earning a degree in chemistry. He graduated from MIT in 1996 and then from the Culinary Institute of The us five several years later. For Nishiyama and his culinary faculty classmates, French dining places represented the pantheon of culinary achievement, so he set off on a Michelin-starred route. Right after yrs of creating his abilities, Nishiyama realized that this design of fantastic eating can occasionally be overcomplicated and esoteric. It did not mirror the meals he eventually needed to serve.
“I started off contemplating about what my spot would appear like, did I want to do French food items? The answer I came up with was, ‘not completely,'” he claimed.
Nishiyama nevertheless appreciates facets of French cooking, but his personal type is lighter and more vegetable- and seafood-forward. It also attracts from the varied cuisines he’s been uncovered to due to the fact his childhood.
Planning for Ethel’s Fancy commenced in 2017, and the staff was ready to start building in March 2020, the thirty day period the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. In the adhering to months, the advancement of a COVID-19 vaccine was nevertheless unsure, and the project was nearly tabled. “We just kind of stopped every little thing that calendar year. Not figuring out if we were going to move ahead or not,” Nishiyama reported. Immediately after battling by means of a setting up approach slowed by offer chain problems, Ethel’s Extravagant is eventually ready to open.
The cafe will prioritize shared, “interactive” dishes exactly where diners may well dunk segments of yellow stone fruit into a dip studded with cashews or assemble their have wraps. Not like the wonderful-eating temples the place he’s put in most of his profession, Nishiyama looks to host fall-ins at the bar and hopes that people visit various times a month to peer into the open up kitchen. He envisions a local community gathering place where by guests will move dishes all-around the desk and have energetic discussions about the entrees they’re having fun with.
Irrespective of this more relaxed and communal method, Nishiyama’s food stuff nonetheless evokes his instruction and the interest to depth espoused by high-quality eating. Cucumbers are peeled so that they bear a pleasing striped sample, and crispy pork stomach slice into uniform lardons is accented by environmentally friendly grilled peas and pink slices of watermelon radish. Things will stand for the changing seasons and function neighborhood deliver, which includes substances sourced from the Downtown Palo Alto Farmers’ Market place. Nishiyama is teaming up with a normal supervisor who also hails from the 3-star Michelin environment to supply a wine and cocktail system.
Treasuring the chance to open his have place, Nishiyama is dedicating Ethel’s Extravagant to the two girls who supported him prolonged prior to he could very easily shape quenelles (creamed fish or meat) or craft a menu pairing oxtail and octopus.
“I preferred the cafe to be a pretty own expression of every little thing I have performed in my life, so what greater way to do that (than) through a tribute to my mother and grandmother,” he explained.
Prolific Oven cakes can continue to be ordered on the internet.
Dig into meals information. Abide by the Peninsula Foodist on Instagram @peninsulafoodist and subscribe to the newsletter to get insights on the most recent openings and closings, understand what the Foodist is enthusiastic about having, read through exceptional interviews and continue to keep up on the traits influencing nearby places to eat.
Anthony Shu writes for TheSixFifty.com, a sister publication of Palo Alto Online, covering what to eat, see and do in Silicon Valley.