Bacchus Management, the team behind upscale restaurants like Spruce and the Saratoga, is set to open in the tony town of Atherton on July 23. Selby’s is the group’s interpretation of a “continental American” restaurant, dripping with indulgent decor and serving a menu to match.
Atherton isn’t recognized as a dining destination; it’s better known as a bedroom community to Silicon Valley where executives and their families live on tree-lined streets. The restaurant space where Selby’s will open has served as the community’s main hangout for years, starting out as Johnny’s in 1938, followed by Barbarossa, and then Chantilly, which closed in 2017 after 43 years. Now in 2019, the building at 3001 El Camino Real is largely surrounded by commercial property and residences, not as part of “downtown” development.
“That’s the challenge,” says Bacchus CEO Tim Stannard, who also lives in Atherton. “You end up needing to be a lot of different things to a lot of different people.”
“How do you create a restaurant that can simultaneously host somebody that’s on a casual date night with their wife and six feet away somebody is celebrating their 50th wedding and then others are having a business dinner and celebrating an IPO?”
The answer is a menu from chef Mark Sullivan that jumps from chilled jumbo prawns with cocktail sauce ($19) and a classic wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese dressing ($15) to a dry-aged roast crown of duck for two ($98) and a black label burger with Époisses and Australian black truffle ($50). Steaks range from an eight ounce butcher ‘s cut ($31) to the 40/40 porterhouse ($165). (Check out the full menus below.)
The list of “house cocktails” sticks to the classics, too, like Aperol spritzes and the Brown Derby No. 2 with bourbon, grapefruit, lemon, honey and bitters, all for $15. In a nod to the dining room theatrics of the ‘40s, a martini cart will deliver what the menu calls “the coldest martini on the West Coast,” as well as a classic Vesper.
It’s an interesting juxtaposition: retro glamour embedded the land of technology and Soylent. Will that crowd buy in to the charms of a braised rabbit vol-au-ent with sauce allemande?
“We’re not believers in trends, we don’t chase what’s the newest, hottest hippest trend,” says Stannard of his restaurant group. “All our restaurants are built around more classic sensibilities. There’s a reason things become classic: Because they’re really good.”