Dining at The Faultline not as dangerous as it sounds

The Faultline Restaurant is located at 11 Franklin St. in San

To some people, hosting a dinner party is a hassle and a chore.
Edie Duncan is not one of those people.
Duncan
– owner, chef and server at San Juan Bautista’s The Faultline
Restaurant – enjoys entertaining so much that 15 years ago she
turned her home into a restaurant. Ever since, Duncan, with a big
voice and an unabashed laugh, has welcomed customers to her quaint
space at 11 Franklin St.
To some people, hosting a dinner party is a hassle and a chore. Edie Duncan is not one of those people.

Duncan – owner, chef and server at San Juan Bautista’s The Faultline Restaurant – enjoys entertaining so much that 15 years ago she turned her home into a restaurant. Ever since, Duncan, with a big voice and an unabashed laugh, has welcomed customers to her quaint space at 11 Franklin St.

But she’s not one for large get-togethers or lukewarm atmospheres. The more personal the interaction, the better, she said.

“I’ve been to these huge parties with 60 or 80 people, and they all walk around with glasses of wine in their hands looking stupid, barely talking to each other,” Duncan said. “But you get the small parties, and they intermingle and talk to each other. I like that.”

Duncan’s restaurant is open to the public on Friday and Saturday evenings. The rest of the week, she books private parties for social and business affairs, averaging about two to three events a month.

Health-conscious, environmentally friendly cuisine is Duncan’s focus. The Faultline’s menu offers a variety of organic vegetables and salads, fresh fish, chicken, duck breast, ribeye and filet mignon.

Some dishes change seasonally to accommodate in-season produce, and Duncan does not support farm-raising fish. Instead, she said she sticks strictly to the fish in the green section of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch List, which identifies fish that are abundant and caught in environmentally friendly ways.

“The fish tastes so much better when it’s from the ocean and not a farm, for one,” she said. “And two, (farm raising) hurts the environment.”

Duncan was born in Poland and raised in Germany, but she said her cooking is influenced more by the many restaurants she has visited across the globe than by her roots. Some of her preferred culinary spots are in Seattle, San Francisco and the Carmel Valley.

Her all-time favorites, though, require a few more frequent flyer miles to get there.

“In Hong Kong, there are some amazing restaurants,” Duncan said. “At one restaurant, they fly in all their mushrooms fresh from Switzerland, and it’s fabulous, just fabulous.”

Duncan’s experiences eating internationally – the good and the bad – have taught her one thing: Fresh is always better.

“I’ve been fortunate. I’ve eaten in top places around the world, and it’s always the same thing: It’s the freshest ingredients that make it work,” she said. “You try to bring something in frozen from Chicago, deep fry it and serve it, and it just doesn’t work.”

Two especially popular dishes at The Faultline are rack of lamb with homemade jalapeño jelly and – believe it or not – calf liver with onions, Duncan said.

“I think I’m probably one of the only restaurants left that serves that,” she said. “But you’d be surprised. People call up and ask to see if I’m serving it. It’s a special item that a lot of restaurants just don’t have anymore. But people still enjoy it because it’s something they remember.”

Also on the a-la-carte menu are fried oysters, crab cakes and a specialty Caesar salad. For dessert, try homemade key lime pie or chocolate cake. Meals, made to order, range between $14 and $26.

The restaurant also features an extensive wine list and ambient décor.

Duncan’s husband, an investment fine art dealer, has decked the place out with one-of-a-kind, sophisticated pieces.

As Duncan is quick to point out, the atmosphere works well for a romantic date or private event, but it’s not for kids.

“I offer no kids’ menu, no high chairs, nothing like that,” she said. “This is strictly a restaurant for adults.”

Many of Duncan’s customers are regional – from Fresno, Carmel and Merced, for example – who are traveling through the area and searching for a scenic spot to dine, although many customers also live in San Juan Bautista and Hollister.

The restaurant is located near the San Juan Bautista Mission, allowing patrons to meander onto the patio and take in the views.

Also near the restaurant – right underneath it, in fact – is the San Andreas Fault, giving the restaurant its name. But that doesn’t bother Duncan.

“We’re on a bedrock. We’re fine,” she said.

Private parties held at the restaurant usually consist of about eight to 20 people. Along with preparing the food, Duncan also acts as server, with the help of one or two wait staff.

“One of my favorite things about cooking and owning a restaurant is enjoying a glass of wine with my guests,” she said. “I really do enjoy that.”

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