Pop-up dining experience with Relate at St. Germain’s

So remember a few months back when I boldly proclaimed Encinitas has established itself on Southern California’s dining map? Well, let’s add another notch to that status with the Feb. 3 opening of Chef Dan Moody’s Relate, a pop-up, or temporary, dinner only restaurant within the
breakfast-and-lunch-only St. Germain’s.
First off, let me give a more thorough description of this concept that has already gained traction in Los Angeles and New York. Chef Moody will leverage the kitchen of an already-established restaurant (St. Germain’s) and reinvent the atmosphere for diners during its off hours for a short run. The dining space will undergo a complete transformation, including new art, table settings, music, etc. to become a fine dining experience during dinner service. The concept is also a platform to celebrate young chefs. By eliminating the substantial up-front costs required to open a restaurant, the pop-up allows the chef to experiment without the risk.
Chef Moody, a San Diego native, is CIA trained and comes with some serious credentials.  He trained at L’Orangerie in Los Angeles and most recently, helped launch and provided ongoing support as sous chef at LudoBites in Los Angeles as well. LudoBites has become the phenomenally successful pop-up concept by Chef Ludo Lefebvre. 
Going way back, Chef Moody traded in his football uniform at Torrey Pines High School to work in the original Roadhouse in Leucadia and Jakes in Del Mar. It was there he gained the kitchen chops needed to qualify for enrollment at the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park, New York. So yes, he has the experience to make this endeavor work.
With this column running three days before Relate is scheduled to open, I wanted to provide readers a little more than a definition of a pop-up restaurant and
chef background. So I approached Chef Moody with the idea of providing a taste of his cuisine for me to share with readers. To my surprise he was all for it so we agreed to meet for lunch at his home where he provided a sample, three-course meal. Based on this experience, I can say with no hesitation that Chef Moody is the real deal and you should probably make your reservation for Relate immediately because it’s going to be a tough ticket once word gets out.
While he was unable to provide a menu due to his obsession with using only the freshest ingredients, Chef Moody describes the cuisine at Relate as contemporary French. If you happened to see the “No Reservations” episode with Anthony Bourdain in Paris highlighting the new breed of French chefs, this is an exciting development in French cuisine. This style puts new, lighter twists on classic French dishes and invents some new ones altogether. Don’t hold Chef Moody to the contemporary French thing either as I’m sure he will be venturing off into different directions occasionally.
As a sneak preview, here is a taste of what he can do in the kitchen. The first course was a roasted baby beet salad, yam and Rainier cherry puree, baby fennel, citrus, cinnamon and lavender.
I will admit I was never a big beet fan but I am now. Enough said. Second course was butter poached lobster, leeks, tarragon lobster oil, onion froth, beet chip, and fennel jam. Sounds wonderful right? Yep, that it was. We finished up with a third course spiced petite fillet, spinach avocado puree, crispy truffle spaetzle and a Guinness gastrique. The petite fillet mignon was prepared sous vide style, vacuum sealed and cooked in a water bath at 125 degrees for 1 hour then seared at 350 degrees using induction burner in grapeseed oil until well-browned then seasoned with salt and Chef Moody’s spice mix, which contains chipotle, ancho chili, coffee, ginger, clove and cinnamon. A cutting-edge preparation for sure and it worked on every level.
So this is the deal, the changing menu will be a five-course, prix fixe for $55 without wine and $70 with wine. Desserts will also be made on premise by Chef Moody. Reservations are strongly suggested but walk-ins are welcome and there will be a wine bar with small bites.
Opening night is Feb. 3 and will feature a menu with beer pairings coordinated through Tap Hunter. Relate is only around from Feb. 3 to Feb. 26 on Tuesday through Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. then it’s gone. Make your reservation today at relaterestaurant.com or call (858) 367.3709. It’s located at 1010 S. Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas.

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