Jason Bernstein and James Starr plan to open The Golden State by February 15 in the former Fairfax home of Nova Express coffeehouse, specializing in California-made sandwiches, sausages, sides and salads. “The only ones that are not always sourced from California would be the beers,” says Bernstein. “Our goal is to try to provide the best of what’s possible…If there’s a particular bottled beer that would go best with a particular sandwich or sausage, we don’t want to shortchange any customer.”
The space is practically done. The duo is just waiting for the Health Inspector’s thumb’s up. Gone are Nova’s jet black walls and blacklights. Instead, you’ll find concrete floors, a brick wall and floor-to-ceiling windows facing Fairfax. Order at the counter.
Leading up the The Golden State, Bernstein helped coordinate City of Hope’s Walk For Hope and Starr produced TV commercials for an agency and “enjoyed” a short sting at a production company. Starr is also one half of Mike James Clothing, which donates a percentage of sales from each T-shirt to a charity corresponding to each shirt’s Area Code.
Samir Mohajer, previously the executive chef at Rustic Canyon and sous chef at Little Door, designed the seasonal menu, which features five sausages, five sandwiches and five sides. Bernstein sums up the approach: “perfect four or five things, then leave it to Samir to come up with specials based on what’s fresh at farmers’ market.” Mohajer has his own restaurant opening this month, The Cabbage Patch, but Bernstein and Starr are confident they’ve got a handle on the menu.
The menu will change with the seasons, but there will be some reliability. For example, The Golden State Burger involves a Rockenwagner brioche hamburger bun, Huntington Farms beef and Fiscallini cheddar. They’ll sell Huntington Farms sausages, including bratwurst and chicken-apple or chicken-mango, depending on availability. Every sandwich and sausage comes with a complimentary side. Think caponata, sweet potato fries, jalapeño slaw, German potato salad with bacon or arugula salad with lemon and Parmesan.
To showcase their beer selection, Bernstein and Starr will host seven taps and sell up to 20 bottles, many of which will be seasonal. On draft, expect Craftsman 1903 and Hefeweizen, plus more unusual pours like Honestly Ale.
For dessert, Bernstein and Starr enlisted Tai Kim of Scoops, who’s offering his gelato for the first time outside of HelMel. Expect seven flavors per week, entirely dependent on Kim’s vision.
Bernstein and Starr also thought Fairfax needed a coffeehouse, so they’ll offer French press coffee. The beans: TBD.