Go Fish, the Napa Valley seafood restaurant that opened only last month, picked up an ace when it hired chef Victor Scargle to take over the kitchen. The chef since 2003 at Julia's Kitchen, the restaurant at Copia in Napa, Scargle starts the week after Thanksgiving.
Go Fish is the valley's first serious seafood restaurant, the brainchild of Cindy Pawlcyn, whose restaurants Mustards, outside Yountville, and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, in St. Helena, are longtime local favorites. She and business partner Sean Knight modernized the former Pinot Blanc and installed sushi chef Ken Tominaga, who made his name with his own restaurant in Santa Rosa, to preside over a 16-seat sushi bar. Scargle will be executive chef.
On my visit to the restaurant recently, the sushi bar clearly outshone the food coming from the kitchen, a sentiment expressed by several others I spoke with. The menu is full of mouthwatering ideas, however, and if the execution of the cooked food catches up with them, Go Fish should be a hit. Enter Scargle, nervously watching developments at Copia. The wine-and-culture center is facing a massive $68 million deficit.
Knight approached Scargle when the chef was having dinner at Go Fish. "I asked him how it was going at Copia," said Knight, who had asked Scargle to recommend the original chef, "and he said he was nervous. So I said, let's talk."
Scargle made a point to note that he didn't expect the reorganization under way at Copia to affect the restaurant there, one of the few bright spots in the center's public image. "But a lot of the people I work with in the building are walking around looking shell-shocked," he added.
Jeff Mosher, the sous chef at Julia's Kitchen, will get the promotion to chef, Scargle said.
Scargle earned raves for his food at Julia's Kitchen, which has the luxury of using what the center's demonstration garden produces. In my review of Julia's Kitchen in 2004, I wrote, "Scargle loves to riff on the produce coming out of [the] garden, assembling salads that zing with vitality, garnishing and completing dishes with pitch-perfect seasonal flavors."
Significantly, two of the three dishes mentioned used seafood. "I love cooking fish," Scargle said. "This is perfect for me. And Cindy has room for a garden twice as big as the one I had at Copia."