Essential to a restaurant's success is what you as patrons are not particularly intended to notice: the setting. There is a grand design that penetrates deeper than the mirrors, tables, centerpieces and flooring. A good restaurant has a coherent, but invisible scheme.
You should enter a new restaurant with the expectation of being enthralled -- and, if the place works, you will be.
I have to go feel a place numerous times when I am designing a new space, to have it speak to me, to imagine it in action. It has to function or the look will be lost.
But I do not think you should walk into a restaurant and think an architect designed this.
The most important thing I have found in my experience, is that the design must never fight the food for first place. This means in all these settings, the food will be the star. It is, after all, the main point of the entire exercise, and its colors must shine forth without competition. Thus, in all my restaurants, the colors of the walls have always been earth tones, slightly muted with small splashes of color using artwork that we are always changing with local artists.
But I am currently working on a new project where everything is flipped out. It is a surf/taco/shack where bright colors will abound. The place's interior will compete with my food in a big way. The walls will be filled with skate, surf and biking pictures from my hometown, Bradenton. The pictures and place will be representative of my childhood. Having been born on a hot June day in 1959 on the Gulf Coast, I was lucky enough to grow up doing all watersports and those connected to it, when my hometown was full of dirt roads and not many people. The candy-colored cottages, the coconut smell of suntan lotion, the sun and the lifestyle are part of who I am to this day. I am proud to be from Bradenton. I was made by this village.
Birdrock Taco Shack, my new place in Village of the Arts at 1004 10th Ave. W., will be the culmination of this lifelong journey. I plan to open in January, but will be participating in the Village's community events until then.
And any old buddies who are out there who have pictures of our county's history of surfing, skating or any other extreme sport we play hard at in Bradenton, come see me. I could use help opening a "museum of beach style" after 56 years of research.
Here is a recipe from our soon-to-be Birdrock Taco Shack.
Baja-style Birdrock Shrimp tacos
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
8 ounces shrimp, peeled and cleaned
3 sprigs of cilantro
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 jalapeno seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 onion finely chopped
Corn tortillas freshly made
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onion and fry 2 minutes. Add the chilies and cook a few seconds, add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Add shrimp then cook for one minute, add cilantro and salt to taste remove and serve in hot fresh tortillas with lime.
Chef Dave Shiplett, chef/owner of SOMA Creekside, can be reached at 941-567-4001. SOMA Creekside is at 1401 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.