A mysterious tavern keeper, only known to the world as “Monsieur Boulanger,” provided the French of the 1800’s with something quite incredible: he gave them soup! But not just average broth, for his meal was a restorative. During this time, only guilds lead by famous chefs were allowed to service the public and cater food. But one day, Monsieur Boulanger hung a sign outside his door, with the phrase “Restauratif” and from there, the beginning of restaurants came to be. Come back to the year 2017, and we find ourselves in a quaint part of Florida in the little town of Dunedin. Here, chefs Jason and Cricket are shaving truffles over some fresh pasta they rolled earlier that day. From their kitchen, open to their space which holds a few tables, an inviting set of couches, and a large bar in front of their prep space, a lasting warmth can be felt. As the sign printed on the door states: “The Restorative,” visiting this place leaves one with a sense of restoration only food can provide.
Born from this idea, the Restorative took place as a culinary idea between the chefs during the time in Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, just off the coast of Massachusetts. having extensive culinary backgrounds of over 30 years combined, the two set out to open a space that would define their skills as well as the area around them. Having first looked at space in the downtown proper, the originally planned to open under the “CiBo” title, for the meaning of food in Italian. They wanted to open as authentic of an Italian style restaurant as they could, going so far as to even hand make all of the pasta. After realizing a combination of things were working against this idea, the pair decided to look outside of downtown for a location.
Referencing successful establishments such as Rooster and the Till and The Refinery, Jason and Cricket chose a small space off Patricia Avenue, a few miles southwest of the main downtown. Much like the restaurants above, though not located near foot traffic areas, the space allowed them to pioneer a new area of town. As we interview them, nail guns and trucks can be heard across the way as the work for Aqua Solis is being done. This development promises a huge area of new living space for the community as well as a fresh start for the Patricia ave businesses. Seeing this opportunity, the two chefs chose their space and began construction. Looking at the space now, you wouldn’t believe it existed in the area it does. The cozy colors and nod to New England restaurants give you a sense of not even being in Florida.
Operating on an ingenious set of induction tops, Sous-vide, a small half rack oven, and sheer determination, the kitchen delivers an increasingly varied and complex set of dishes. Having this style of cook space allowed for them to avoid having a hood system installed. As this can be costly and difficult to relocate once placed, they wanted to test everything with this more energy-efficient set up first.
The menu is constructed partially by region and style and partially by what they’re able to cook simultaneously. By not having all dishes require the induction tops, they’re able to offer several cold plates as well as a few mains and some intriguing desserts. By planning it in this way, they can turn over more plates during peak dinner service while still delivering an un-paralleled quality. Bringing on their Sommelier, Sully, they were able to strengthen this connection of the food to it’s origin. By pairing regions of vineyard based on the chef’s menu selections, Sully is able to plot the right wines to compliment the dish as well as offer customers a view into the regions their meal originates.
Speaking of wine, the Restorative offers possibly one of the most intimate and exciting of wine dinners in the area. One Saturday each month, they close service to the public and create a long, communal dining space. Once seated, guests are treated to a pairing of several courses and a wine. The entire menu is preselected so that everyone may experience the wines of a specific quality and the various foods that match each unique aspect of that wine. The dinners have become so successful that each has sold out within the first week or so of being announced.
It was an absolute pleasure having the chance to meet up with Jason, Cricket, and the team at The Restorative. RealHamn invites you to make the stop next time you’re nearby (or the trip if you’re farther away) and be their guest; trust us, it’s a fest.