It's the question whispered around town: who will be the chef at the owners of Bin 152's new restaurant, Chez Nous? Today, chef Jill Mathias can finally raise her hand. After five years at the helm of historic spot Carolina's, Mathias is ready to make a change. Along with the already announced partners, Patrick and Fanny Panella, Mathias is a co-owner of the up-and-coming restaurant on Payne Court. Mathias has had to be a silent partner until now because she was manning the kitchen at Carolina's and had not yet announced she was moving to a new place.
Mathias and her fiancé, Juan Cassalett, would sit in wine bar Bin 152 on their nights off and, along with the Panellas, would brainstorm ideas for an intimate restaurant with European comfort cuisine. "We thought about the project and thought, if Jill doesn't do it, then we didn't want to do it," says Patrick. "We wouldn't do it without her," reiterates Fanny. While working in Martha's Vineyard several years ago, Mathias would travel to Italy every winter and explore neighboring regions. Italian and French cuisine overlap, and, therefore, she already had an extensive grasp on the type of food to be offered at Chez Nous.
To chat with the couples, one can't help be excited for the new place. They speak of their intense menu testing sessions (complete with scorecards) and one feels like the rest of us are missing out on the most exclusive dinner party on the peninsula—though, it's technically work. "Fanny and I are uber-organized and don't leave anything to chance," states Patrick when talking about their concentrated research. "And they are the artists", chimes in Fanny, while gesturing to Mathias and Cassalett. Hints of menu items emerge from tales of their tastings—cannellini bean salad with anchovy toast, a pumpkin and pork pâté, black sea bass provençal with braised fennel and tomato confit, pork with celeriac puree and king trumpets with a walnut sauce and ricotta mousse with farro. The quartet sound much like enthusiastic kids on Christmas when talking about the potential offerings.
The group hopes for a late November opening, though are reasonable in their understanding that construction can always get delayed or permits could be stalled. "Every one of us goes to the building to see the progress everyday," says Fanny.
· All Chez Nous Coverage [-ECHS-]
· Carolina's [Official]
· Say Chèvre [CM]
· All Bin 152 Coverage [-ECHS-]