"Sometimes even the simplest things, if you use the right ingredients, can be fantastic," said Tim Westby-Gibson, executive chef and co-owner of Prime46forty at Monticello Marketplace in Williamsburg.
He was speaking recently about his desire to offer patrons a truly unique dining experience — from what they find on the menu to the décor — at his recently opened restaurant. The statement seems to pervade Westby-Gibson's attitude in everything he does, as he and his business partner Caroll Bull have established a new dining venue which has been garnering rave reviews from locals and visitors.
Bull is the former owner of A Carroll's Bistro on Scotland Street where Westby-Gibson worked for seven years as chef. He has also used his culinary expertise as chef at Center Street Grill and Café Provencal at the Williamsburg Winery.
Food is his passion.
"What I try to do is find the best quality ingredients available and let them speak for themselves," he said. "But I like to have fun, too. I try things that are different while still maintaining my roots in traditional cooking."
The restaurant menu is different from one people may find locally. Alongside steaks or crab cakes, patrons get to choose from grilled wild boar chop, real Hawaiian Mahi tuna and Tasmanian King Salmon.
"We offer things nowhere in town does," he said. "I try to get the best ingredients I can find and present them in ways that are unique, yet are still comfortable for our patrons. We do try to push the envelope, so there is something new and different for them to try."
He goes to great lengths to obtain the highest quality ingredients, whether it is eggs, produce or meat.
"We feature Allen Brothers beef which is one of the finest Midwestern beefs available," he said. "It is the best of the best. We have people who come to the restaurant just for the steaks."
The more unusual menu selections, including boar and venison, are ordered from Broken Arrow Ranch in Texas, which he added, is one of the premiere game farms in the country. He said people are often surprised when they select boar, finding it very lean with only a slightly gamier taste. Same for the venison.
"The venison is a very good tasting meat," he said. "It is similar to beef with a gamier flavor, it tastes fantastic."
Seafood also takes high priority.
"We do very well with our seafood selections," he said. "We have local sources, and also ones from around the world. Our fish comes from the Honolulu Fish Company. I get fish from New Zealand and from the Mediterranean Sea."
Westby-Gibson doesn't skimp on any of the ingredients. Everything on the menu is made by hand, from pasta to soup stock to ice cream. He buys pork bellies to cure and smoke his own bacon, which gives added zing to recipes that call for it.
"It's the little things people may take for granted that sets us apart," he said.
Westby-Gibson spends his days juggling the responsibilities that come with business ownership and being an executive chef while coming up with ways to surprise and delight patrons with specials. And when he is not at the restaurant, he cooks at home for his wife and two children.
"The kids like daddy's cooking," he said with a laugh, adding they have tried many different foods. "Instead of having chicken, I tell them we are having chicken with a lot of cool stuff on it."
Westby-Gibson is happy at the restaurant, and is excited about the future, continuing to offer the best dining experience he can while challenging his own skills.
"Every day I learn something new," he said. "Every day there is something I want to learn. That is what makes me work hard, because every day there is something new that I want to try."
Efimetz can be reached at 757-345-2341.