Oliver and Tia Ridgeway love both their children. Their first restaurant could only have one of the kids’ names, though, and it couldn’t be their daughter Ella, because that name is already in use.
Thus Camden Spit & Larder was born. Camden is the name of the Ridgeways’ son as well as a London neighborhood. Spit refers to the rotisserie ovens responsible for several of the dishes’ main ingredients. And larder – an English term for pantry – nods to the private dining room in the back of the swanky downtown restaurant.
Camden Spit & Larder will open for dinner at 555 Capitol Mall on Nov. 27 and lunch on Dec. 3. It passed its health inspection Wednesday. It’s within walking distance of banking skyscrapers and the state government hub and just 147 steps from Golden 1 Center’s VIP entrance, with a menu and price point to match.
Oliver Ridgeway was born in England but classically trained in French cooking, he said. He worked as a sous chef at The Carlyle, a luxury hotel in New York City, and as executive chef at the Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, N.M., before taking over the Grange kitchen in 2011.
Ridgeway left Grange in January to consult Track 7 Brewing Co. on The Other Side, a more casual rotisserie cafe that opened in East Sacramento in July. Construction on Camden Spit & Larder began in April, with Tia managing the project’s business side.
Billed as “British food with a twist of California ingredients,” Camden Spit & Larder’s tentative menu includes delicacies such as steak tartare, oysters and roasted spring lamb, when seasonally available.
British food doesn’t have a reputation to match French or Italian, Ridgeway said. But London restaurants had the sixth-most Michelin stars of any city in 2017.
“I think the translation in America sometimes gets taken the wrong way,” Ridgeway said. “You think of British pub food, crappy fish and chips, and it’s just not a good representation. British food can be quite elegant. There’s some great braising, some great seafood preparation.”
A gin-rich bar hopes to capitalize on the trending spirit, which is expected to outsell Scotch whisky in the U.K. by 2020. Sacramento-area beers on tap include those from Device Brewing, Urban Roots and Bike Dog, along with a detailed wine selection.
Camden Spit & Larder faces a tricky situation not unfamiliar to other restaurants around the Capitol: It’ll need to draw customers willing to plunk down $85 for an ounce of locally-source caviar without excluding diners from the suburbs.
There’ll be no dress code, Ridgeway said, and valets will spare customers the headache of trying to find parking around Golden 1 Center. A tentative lunch menu is spotted with more affordable entrees such as a pork loin sandwich, Tomales Bay mussels and a bacon cheddar cheeseburger, all priced $15 to $17.
The larder section provides a secluded glimpse of the gold-tinted dining room through a two-way mirror, along with tableside meat carving and a private area on the outdoor patio facing 6th Street. The Ridgeways are banking on the accoutrements helping them stand apart from nearby competitors such as Il Fornaio and Morton’s The Steakhouse.
“Capitol Mall may have been considered a little more of a chain area,” Ridgeway said. “Everyone’s eager for a new dining experience, and something a little elevated too. I hope to bring that.”