One of this fall’s most anticipated restaurants rolls out this week with the Friday, October 7 opening of Chez Noir in the coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The restaurant comes from husband-and-wife co-owners chef Jonny Black and Monique Black, both of whom bring experience working at Michelin-starred restaurants to the project. Jonny previously cooked at restaurants including Per Se, Atelier Crenn, and Quince, where Monique also worked front of house. Now the couple’s putting down roots on the Monterey Bay Peninsula, opening their fine dining restaurant in the same craftsman house their family will call home.
Earlier this summer, Jonny said he’s looking forward to applying his French culinary background to the bounty of local ingredients available in the region around Chez Noir. “I love classic cooking, I love classic French cooking but also I want people to come in and have it not be too stuffy,” Black said. “The nice thing about finally opening your own restaurant is there are no rules.”
The menu, which will change frequently, showcases local ingredients such as squid pulled from Monterey Bay, California Caviar Company caviar, Santa Barbara sea urchin, Rancho Gordo beans, and Koda Farms rice. Diners looking to get a taste of the California coast should have ample opportunity, from chilled oysters served with rangpur lime and passion fruit and a petit plateau of seasonal shellfish.
A selection of snacks, inspired by the Spanish tradition of pintxo, includes duck liver toast and an abalone sausage stuffed chicken wing. The menu will always offer a housemade bread course, followed by heavier plates such as uni-topped spaghetti alla chiatarra, Monterrey abalone with cauliflower, and a large format grilled steak. Desserts will include Bohemian Creamery Boho Belle cheese with caramel honey and fruit or baba au rum with Minazzoli Farm peaches and Chantilly cream.
Wines, which will be selected by general manager and beverage director Nate Cohen, will focus on “natural wines and small growers who farm ethically with minimal intervention,” per a press release. Expect selections from France and Italy alongside domestic regions, from Southern California to Washington. There’s also a deep selection of Grower Champagnes on hand. Cocktails, meanwhile, will lean on French spirits and liqueurs like Pastis, vintage chartreuse, absinthe, and vermouth made in-house.
It’ll be an intimate restaurant with 36 seats in the dining room, eight at the bar, and 22 in a courtyard anchored by a Magnolia tree and firepit. Designed by San Francisco-based studio ROY, the restaurant also incorporates elements person to the couple including subtle references to “This Must be the Place,” Jonny and Monique’s first dance song at their wedding, and custom artwork by Monique’s sister Nicole Bourgea Gleason.
Chez Noir (5th Avenue, between Dolores and San Carlos Streets, Carmel) opens Friday, October 5 and will server dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 8:30 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations are available on Tock.