Jared Van Camp and company had spent two days giving tours of the Nellcote and RM Champagne Salon spaces for four or five hours a day, and by the time we were their very last tourist, they were a bit punchy, ready to laugh about the fact that their $3.5 million rock and roll decadent-chic French villa concept looked more like Keith Moon and Sid Vicious had spent the weekend together in it. Still, get past the piles of construction trash and at last their concept, which we felt we never quite understood, came through— they want to restore old world elegance to fine dining, but in a glam rock way that doesn't instantly make you feel like a kid at the grownup's table, the way the traditional trappings of fine dining do.
"Everything is rustic now," Van Camp says, and he doesn't mean it as a compliment; to his mind and that of partner Chris Dexter and sommelier Jason Wagner, dining has gotten too comfy and unrefined to be chic. Nellcote is a blast across the bow of rusticism, an interior that recreates the world of 19th century elegance and propriety— so it can then recapture the fun of swanking about decadently in it without worrying about behaving like you're on Downton Abbey. Since everyone in the food media got a tour this week, you'll probably see more than a few slideshows before the next week is out, but we'll focus on some of the quirky or behind the scenes details that especially struck us about the place, and why it will be both a destination for food and drink as well as a place to be seen on the scene when it opens, they hope, in early March.