When a Top Chef Masters winner moves into town, it’s a pretty big deal. But when a Top Chef winner opens a restaurant in town, it’s even bigger.
After Superstorm Sandy flooded Monmouth Beach’s beloved Sallee Tee’s Waterfront Grill with five feet of water, the owners of the Channel Club Marina decided to rebuild. A year later, the space is now occupied by The Beach Tavern, where no matter where you sit, you’ll have amazing views of the Shrewsbury River.
Occupying 6,000 square feet of space, The Beach Tavern’s Executive Chef Paul Winberry, Jr., originally from Westfield, has his work cut out for him. Luckily, he’s no stranger to restaurants. After finding his passion for cooking, working at The Huntley Taverne in Summit and then scoring a job, just six months later at Cyrus Restaurant, the only two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Sonoma County, California.
“I didn’t come into this to be kind of good at this,” said Winberry of his rise through the kitchen. After Cyrus closed, Winberry took a break, taking in Sonoma County, however his break wouldn’t last for long. While on a walk, he received a phone call from his former boss asking him to get on a plane to Los Angeles… that afternoon. Little did he know how much one plane trip could actually change his life. Later on that night, he was a surprise addition to the Top Chef Masters competition, which he later won. After the experience of a lifetime, Winberry traveled cross country to work at Blue Hill at Stones Barn for six months, but took a full leave to take care of his ailing father.
Realizing that he wanted a position that inspired him, another friend connected him with the Chrysanthopoulos brothers, the owners of the Channel Club Marina, who shared their vision of what the new restaurant would become. They handed the reigns over to Winberry, who took part in the decision making about everything from the floor to the kitchen.
“I think our food is really bold on the flavor side and we try to layer the flavors and make it little more complex than people are used to,” says Winberry who also shares that his “kitchen crew is awesome.”
Winberry takes the French, Japanese, and Chinese techniques that he learned in fine dining and combines it with American ingredients to stimulate his diner’s taste buds. Sit down for a 10-course tasting menu at the Chef’s Table, or at one of the many tables overlooking the Shrewsbury River.
Of the many delectable items on the menu, Winberry recommends the scallops, which has become a customer favorite and features cauliflower puree, frisee, caramelized florets, currants, pine nuts, saffron, and lemon confit. Another favorite is the tuna, a dish inspired by his Cyrus days, featuring sushi grade tuna, braised white radish, bok choy, shitake mushrooms, scallions, ginger, and Winberry’s twist – Yuzu Dashi.
In addition to a healthy menu of pasta dishes, all made with pasta that is made in house, every single day, there’s a well-stocked raw bar with three East Coast and three West Coast oysters, lump crab, little neck clams, and lobsters in the summer. Winberry is even featuring oysters from Forty North Oysters, a local Jersey Shore-based oyster farm.
After opening this fall, Winberry is looking forward to the restaurant’s first summer season, where they’ll open up the Tiki Bar at the Channel Club. In the meantime, The Beach Tavern is open. Whether you’re joining Winberry and his team for lunch, dinner, or Happy Hour, you’ll feel casually elegant, just like Winberry dreamed.
The Beach Tavern
33 West Street
Photos courtesy of the Beach Tavern.