When the team at Richmond Restaurant Group re-branded Water Coastal Kitchen in Carytown as East Coast Provisions in 2016, the plan all along was to also open a companion restaurant, a West Coast version. A year and a half later, partners Michelle Williams and Jared Golden, along with corporate chef Trevor Knotts, opened the doors to West Coast Provisions in Henrico.
"You definitely recognize that they belong to one another," Williams says, noting that the decor in both features reclaimed wood, ghost painting and identical chairs.
Williams goes on to add that fans of East Coast Provisions will find familiar favorites at the new spot, and there's a fair amount of cuisine overlap — the shaved octopus appetizer, tuna tacos, steak frites and scallops with rice grits all appear on both menus. West Coast's sushi and sashimi selection also came directly from East Coast, along with sushi chef Nicole Gigliotti. Several offerings have West Coast twists, like the lobster: in Carytown, it's served with garlic butter; in the West End, it's cooked in a Cantonese style.
"In the entrees you'll see West Coast influences here, where you'll see East Coast influences there," Williams says. "So it's the same types of dishes but prepared more in keeping with the Pacific Rim, Asian influences, the Northwest, a little Baja. It's giving us an opportunity to explore a bunch of different cuisines."
Williams, Golden and Knotts obviously aren't the new kids on the block. West Coast Provisions is the Richmond Restaurant Group's eighth endeavor, and Knotts has been on board for three of them. But Williams says opening a new restaurant doesn't become less challenging or less exciting from one time to the next.
"It's really hard and exhausting, but it's fun, you know, creating and bringing a vision to life," Williams says. "And the energy is so good, everybody is so excited about their job and being involved in something."
Corporate chef Trevor Knotts, who worked with Williams to create the menu, echoes that sentiment.
"Every single one has had its own set of challenges, but having done it a few times helps you prepare for challenges and even the unknown," says Knotts, who will run the kitchen as the crew finds its legs. "Even though you don't know what it is of course, you know to expect things to go funny. And so it's just a matter of being able to adapt and kind of roll with those punches."
Head chef Ian Boothman joined the team after moving from Philadelphia, and sous chef Hayden McNeese made the move from East Coast Provisions. Knotts says he couldn't be more excited about the team they've assembled, and he's counting on the seasoned pros to help the new guys as they learn the ins and outs of the kitchen. It's a complicated menu, Knotts says, and having a team that can already function more like a ballet than a set of bumper cars puts them at a "huge advantage."
"I'm pushing the envelope hard as far as ingredients, techniques, plating, and we don't really have too many things that are very simple necessarily," Knotts says. "What might surprise some people is some of the things that look very simple are really challenging, they're really technical. Our octopus carpaccio is one of those dishes that's so simple in its appearance and its flavor, but everything has to be perfect. Everything has to be perfectly balanced and perfectly executed or it's ruined." S
West Coast Provisions
301-A Maltby Blvd., Henrico
Wednesdays and Thursdays 5 to 10 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 11 p.m.
Happy hour Mondays - Fridays 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.