Despite the construction dust, cardboard-covered floors and heady smell of fresh paint, things are cooking at the forthcoming Peter Lowell’s Café in Sebastopol. Not so much the hearth-baked pizzas or braised rapini planned for their late-September opening; not the minestrone or fresh bagels listed on the first menu; not even a hint of dandelion greens. Instead, it’s the sizzle and pop of a big idea about to be served.
Co-owned by former Seattle Chef Steven Peyer and Sebastopol native Lowell Sheldon, the back-story goes like this: Two young guys working in a Pacific Northwest restaurant start daydreaming about their own place–a place where they can express their mad passion for “produce-based” (read vegetarian with some local seafood thrown in for flexitarians) with an Italian flair.
Fast-forward three years and the two are putting the finishing touches on their 100 percent organic and sustainable café/pizzeria serving casual breakfast, lunch and dinner fare. Mission accomplished.
Tucked into a green-building community of live/work lofts still under construction (but scheduled for completion in the fall), the restaurant has a built-in audience of folks who get the whole green vibe. Which is exactly the idea. Peyer and Sheldon envision the café as something of a community kitchen where folks can stop by for coffee (Ecco, of course) and a bagel, a pizza or salad for lunch and fresh made risotto for dinner, along with a glass of biodynamic wine. (Sheldon’s father happens to be the architect of the community.)
Sound familiar? After the launch of West County Grill, Rosso and Ubuntu in fairly short order (all of which owe much to Alice Waters’ decades-old philosophies on food), the idea of gourmet pizzas, designer greens and personal relationships with producers does have that déjà vu all-over-again feel.
But Lowell and Peyer hope to differentiate themselves by, well, just being themselves–falling somewhere between earthy-crunchy and high-concept and focusing heavily on solid flavors. “Our slightly off-kilter attitude towards business -one where people, animals and the environment come before profits, where organic is a way of life and where the highest quality cuisine is a top priority–is in keeping with our community’s standards,” says their menu.
Watch for details on their opening. Meanwhile, you can peruse their website at www.peterlowells.com