Operating a restaurant during the worst of the pandemic has untold challenges. But imagine if it’s one that’s housed in a historic circa-1894 Victorian with small rooms and tight hallways, and a tiny kitchen geared toward turning out exquisite upscale tasting-menus, not takeout fare in cardboard boxes.
Michelin-starred Chez TJ in downtown Mountain View not only weathered all of that, but also made a big chef change mid-pandemic, remodeled its interior, and even added a splashy outdoor dining area complete with modern fire pit, and a snazzy louvered roof that can close in inclement weather.
It remains a lovely and special experience, as always, as I found when I dined outside last week.
Owner George Aviet has a gift for spotting talent. Among the celebrated chefs who have headed Chez TJ early in their careers are: Joshua Skenes, who went on to open San Francisco’s Saison and Angler; Christopher Kostow, who went on to earn three Michelin stars at The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena; Bruno Chemel, who later opened his award-winning Baume in Palo Alto; Scott Nishiyama, who worked at the French Laundry, and is expected to open Ethel’s Fancy in Palo Alto this year; and most recently, Jarad Gallagher, who left to open Smoke Point BBQ in San Juan Bautista.
Christopher Lemerand took over in summer 2020, bringing along an equally impressive background, having cooked on the team at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco when it received its second Michelin star, and at Coi in San Francisco when it received its third Michelin star.Read more