“Whoa!” was my reaction when I learned that John Tesar had signed the lease for a new restaurant in Dana Point, California. Tesar opened Knife Burger in Legacy Hall at the end of last year. Knife’s Plano location is set to open mid-August. Add to that what the chef hopes to be a world-class restaurant steeped in Pacific seafood, Outer Reef, set to debut late 2018 at a Marriott property managed by the same company that manages Highland Hotel properties (including Knife). There’s a lot happening in Tesar’s world.
Those who sense a seafood bent in this, and in the promised addition to the new Knife’s menu of items from Tesar’s defunct Spoon, are feeling the wind right. For most of his career, Tesar was known for seafood, not as a wizard of dry-aged steak; his admiration for the precision and discipline of fish is profound, but the vast cost of shipping, among other things, made Spoon an improbable dream.
“It’s kind of been haunting me since,” Tesar says.
He’ll be appointing an executive chef at Outer Reef, but is overseeing the menu. And he will open the restaurant, bouncing between Dana Point and Plano, where he will also be cooking at Knife. After time on a far-flung food circuit schedule, “This will get me back on the line. In the kitchen,” he says.
The property in Dana Point, which is undergoing a million-dollar renovation, will include an outdoor patio that oversees the yacht-filled marina. (I know the place well.) Tesar anticipates lobster bakes.
That taste of the ocean that’s clear when Tesar speaks of learning about the deepest reaches of the Pacific Ocean, let’s see how it plays out here as well. The weather is leaning seafood-ward. If you were planning to order your favorite dry-aged cut when the new Knife opens, maybe you’ll try something else. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what such a broad reach will mean.