This is the beginning of a new era at Slocum House, the venerable upscale restaurant in Old Fair Oaks, and owner Kerry Kassis says he couldn't be more excited.
Kassis recently made a dramatic change in the kitchen, replacing his executive chef, Eric Sunquist, with Gabriel Glasier, who cooked at the highly regarded Redbud CafÃ© in Cameron Park until its closing in recent months, an apparent victim of the economic downturn. Sunquist tells me he is exploring his options. With his skill in the kitchen, he will know doubt land at a very good restaurant somewhere -- let's hope it's in the Sacramento area.
Unbeknownst to the former Redbud CafÃ© chef/owner, Kassis had been watching Glasier, marveling at the chef's skills and wondering if he would someday be able to get him to cook under the Slocum House roof.
"I happened to stop in there for dinner years ago and I couldn't believe they were putting out that kind of food," Kassis told me. "I started going up there more and more and thought, 'This isn't going to happen.'"
It happened by accident, as it turns out. Slocum House was interviewing a server who listed Redbud on his resume and Kassis learned the place had recently closed.
"It didn't take more than a second or two to ask where the chef was now," Kassis said.
Turns our, Glasier was exploring his options. Kassis and Glasier got together to talk and apparently hit it off. Glasier put together some mock menus and Kassis had visions of returning Slocum House to its glory years under James LaPerrierre, who left in 2004 after nine years.
"Even though our food has been good over the past three or four years, it wasn't the kind of food where people would walk outside the door and say, 'Wow,'" Kassis said.
Kassis sent me a preview of the restaurant's new menu, which will premiere Friday. Glancing at the menu, I notice jumbo gulf prawns stuffed with blue crab, American Kobe sirloin with black truffled mac and cheese, a lamb porterhouse with Israeli cous cous, a farmer's market summer vegetable pot pie with brie cream.
I must admit, my first reaction is, indeed, "Wow."