would this fly in Irvine? Southern food goes upscale at Pican, others
When Pican owner Michael LeBlanc began pitching his concept of an upscale Southern restaurant, all he got was silence.
[font="georgia, 'times new roman', times, serif; line-height: 22px; font-size: 16px; border-collapse: collapse"] Never mind that he'd been a top executive at Polaroid, running its Asia/Pacific operations. Or that he'd opened the first black-owned brewery on the West Coast.
Soul food as fine dining? InOakland
, no less?
"The stares, the looks, were deafening," LeBlanc says of those early investor meetings. "I wanted to say, 'Please don't look at me in that voice.' "
That Pican is now a chirping success in Oakland's Uptown district isn't just a testament to LeBlanc's vision. It's part of a Bay Area
movement pushing the boundaries of what Southern cuisine
can taste - and look - like.
Down the street from Pican is Tanya Holland's always-busy Brown Sugar Kitchen, with its signature chicken and waffles. A second branch is scheduled to open this spring in San Francisco
, where the elegant 1300 on Fillmore and rustic Farmer Brown have established themselves in the past few years.
"It's Southern influence with California ingredients," says David Lawrence, the executive chef at 1300 on Fillmore.
It's a California spin on Cajun, Creole and Caribbean flavors. And it's coming from a new wave of black-owned restaurants that is neither mom-and-pop nor celebrity-driven, like Michael Jordan's chain of steak houses or Norm Nixon
's Odessa in Laguna Beach (Orange County) and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs
' Justin's in New York, both now closed.
<message edited by bill voss on Sun, 01/30/11 11:49 AM>