In the past when I’d visit Los Angeles the first thing I’d do after alighting was to head straight to Cru, Silver Lake’s premiere raw food restaurant, for a hardcore theobroma fix- their rich,creamy chocolate shake and cashew raviolis with pesto…or any number of the other addictive entree offerings. ( you would think that an ecstatic live chocolate shake would be easy to come by but no one in raw NYC can make one that can touch the shakes at Cru or Juliano’s. )
The menu was small but brilliant with none of the usual missteps that other raw restaurants make. Everything on the menu was fully conceived and delicious using the finest quality produce and ingredients that the bountiful world class L.A. farmers markets have to offer. Quality not quantity being the idea..
At the helm was chef Rachel Carr, who in a few short years distinguished herself from the pack of aspiring raw chefs who were popping up everywhere like mushrooms after a storm, by putting her unique stamp on all of her creations. Like so many truly brilliant people she is totally self taught and like all excellent chefs she is obsessed with quality. Nothing is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Every dish is a celebration of the best of the season’s largess.
Not only was she creating a sophisticated version of living foods for a burgeoning audience hungry for something more exciting than gloppy green soup she was offering weekly food prep classes that were an hour and a half power crash course in her unique take on menu favorites from the world over. She is by far the best, most organized, knowledgable, generous and reasonably priced (!) person I have seen teaching the craft.
Rachel stayed at Cru for six years and then packed up her ceramic knives and moved to Sun cafe for another couple of years.
This past winter her Facebook page announced a move to Chester, Connecticut where she was opening her own restaurant.
Initially appalled thinking NYC needs this great talent the logic became more evident when photos of a grand room in a former bank appeared and news of the nearby organic farm in Old Lyme that would be supplying the restaurants formidable kitchen. Nearly every raw foodie wants their own farm and to live in nature. She was getting both and she deserved it even if NYC would be the worse for it.
Well surely my foodie cred improved exponentially this past weekend when my friend and myself made the two and a half hour pilgrimage to Chester and I fully expect a phone call, a hand shake or a commemorative plaque from someone at the Food Network any day now.
No longer catering to a strictly raw crowd Six Main has live food, cooked vegan and vegetarian options also. Which means that pretty much everyone can be happy there. (unless they need to have a half pound of charred animal flesh on their plate to sate them but actually her portobello au poivre should shut even them up )
Admittedly the Raw Loon Factor is rather high with everyone’s endless list of allergies and ability to grok the past lives of every flax cracker so embracing the greater vegetarian population is probably a relief.
In the cooked arena she rises above the fray with ease bringing her clean sensibility to cooked standards. She manages to create comfort foods like lasagna and pasta without it taking a bath in a trough of oil.
Her ratatouille showcases the best of late summer squashes on a bed of delicately seasoned lentils that would make uber food critic Anton Ego whimper with delight.
Her salads are in a league of their own. Always made with the freshest and often exotic greens ( no dried out earthbound meslun for this lady) she evokes thrilling complexity with so few ingredients that it will leave you baffled as to why your own salads at home don’t come within a football field of it for flavor (hint- take her weekly class and find out why!)
Every table was given a fragrant pistou with homemade bread which was a meal in itself and should be listed as a controlled substance. (Pistou is pesto without the nuts and cheese just basily goodness- which is good news to raw heads as we often eat too many nuts)
Her famous raw raviolis are a sure crowd pleaser with its creamy cashew filling and juicy red marinara as is the live pesto linguini.
The beverage menu is equally creative- indulge in a dreamy tangerine, chamomile and ginger mocktail that gets you blissfully high on pure life force energy as does the basil lemonade.
For those needing higher octane treatment lots of organic wines/ cocktails are available.
All of the desserts are raw and the famous ganache has made the cross country trek and is a must for hard core cacao addicts. This dense, super rich confection is guaranteed to keep you awake for the long drive home.
The sundae seems simple,not buried under the motherlode of super foods that some raw places pile on, until the salted chocolate sings an aria to the balcony that raises the hair on your arms.
Yes folks. She has done it again. All strata of foodie can be happy here in the tiny hamlet of Chester. I hope the good folks of Chester realize the greatness in their midst and if they don’t then NYC will be more than thrilled to roll out the red carpet for this talented chef.
Other things to do in Chester. This IS a great day trip by the way.. Visit Gillette Castle built by the actor William Gillette whose fortune was made playing Sherlock Holmes thousands of time on stage. Made entirely of stone atop a glorious hill with views of the Connecticut River. All the furniture and doors are hand carved and astounding.
We also took a swim at a local lake which was so refreshing after hours in the car.
Buy a yummy raw chocolate bar from chocolatier Lisa Sobolewski at the Health food store across from Six Main called Just Beets.
Six Main Street Chester, CT 06412