MENDOCINO Co., 3/22/23 — Just in time for the 39th annual Westport Whale Festival, the Old Abalone Pub at the Westport Hotel is welcoming a new addition to its family: executive chef Odile Perkins and her new food menu bursting with seaside pub classics and new signature dishes.
Perkins served as the chef of Django’s Rough Bar and Grill in Noyo Harbor for years. When the iconic restaurant, with its live music and rustic vibe, shuttered in the wake of the March 2020 pandemic stay-at-home orders, it never recovered, and the restaurant permanently closed. Today, it’s the home of Princess Seafood Restaurant.
Like so many community members without steady income during the height of the pandemic, Perkins pivoted to using Chubby’s Kitchen , a shared commercial kitchen also in Fort Bragg, to make fresh baked goods and and breakfast burritos for A Frame Expresso, a drive-thru coffee shop also owned by Perkins’ sister.
While baking and churning out burritos was a necessity for Perkins during that time, it wasn’t the same as working at a restaurant. “I missed working in the kitchen. It’s where I feel most at home,” says Perkins, for whom cooking and feeding hungry folks is a passion. “It’s just what I do.”
One can say Perkins was born to be a chef. Born in France, her father was a restaurateur. As a child she helped prepare dishes in the kitchen. At age seven, the family moved to the community of Mendocino. Perkins pursued a career in hospitality and food service, making her way up the line to become executive chef at numerous coastal restaurants over the years.
“We had been looking for a chef and had heard of her reputation from several people in the industry,” says Tabitha Korhummel, general manager of the Westport Hotel. “Her cooking has been greatly missed since the 2020 shut down forced Django’s to close.”
With the arrival of Perkins at the Old Abalone Pub comes a revamped menu that features new appetizers, entrees and desserts. This includes Perkins’ signature “Blue Chips”: thinly sliced Kennebec potatoes topped with blue cheese crumble dressing, diced tomatoes and green onions. The chips can be ordered as an appetizer to enjoy with friends or as a side to one’s entree.
“She has expanded our menu to include more seafood and versatility,” says Korhummel, “For example, you can order your fish and chips blackened, grilled, or fried, and have several sides to choose from.” The menu also includes chips with prawns ($19), oysters ($18), or a seafood combo ($20).
Other menu items include cioppino ($30), clam chowder ($7/$10), and steamed clams with white and garlic ($15); hanger steak with a red wine reduction sauce with mushrooms, vegetable medley and garlic mashed potatoes, ($35), rock cod sandwich with a choice of sides ($18), vegan oyster mushroom tacos with salsa and guacamole ($19), warm spinach salad ($10/$15), and more. There will also be specials like pork stew on chilly days and fresh oysters when available.
Perkins is not only known for her entrees, but also her baking. Using her fathers recipe, Perkins bakes fresh bread every day to pair with cioppino, chowders, and steamed clams. She has also introduced a new dessert menu, including apple galette, chocolate pots de crème, and bread pudding.
The Old Abalone Pub will be open at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 25*, the day of the Westport Whale Festival. During regular hours, the Old Abalone Pub at the Westport Hotel is open 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Friday and Saturday 3 to 5 p.m. for afternoon tea and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner. 38921 CA-1, Westport, (707) 964-3688, westporthotel.us.
*Editor’s note: this date has been corrected from March. 23.
Note: Sarah Stierch covers food, beverage, culture, weather and breaking news for The Mendocino Voice. Contact Stierch at [email protected]. The Voice maintains editorial control.