Soon to light up Carlsbad's after-dark scene is a dining experience that will warm patrons year-round. Slated to open Sept. 10, Campfire is a new, 180-seat indoor-outdoor restaurant project from John Resnick, former general manager at Little Italy's Craft & Commerce and Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar — two venues known for, among other offerings, their craft cocktails. Campfire promises an equally exciting beverage program. That's where Leigh (pronounced "Lay") Lacap comes in.
Having worked alongside Resnick at each of those CH Projects hotspots, Lacap now brings his unique set of talents to Campfire as the venue's bar manager and beverage director. On the eve of Campfire's ignition, he talks about what to expect when this place gets cooking.
PacificSD: How have you been prepping for the big opening?
LEIGH LECAP: I've been working on the cocktail program. Coming from Consortium Holdings, we're really passionate about our drinks. We're creating this big synergy between the front- and back-house. We have a section of the cocktail menu that's completely devoted to this collaboration. We're taking seasonal produce and manipulating ingredients using different cooking techniques and equipment. For one of the drinks, we're charring corn. For another, we're burying plums in embers. We're roasting beets, we're grilling pineapple, and we're playing with ingredients in ways I don't think people have experienced before.
What's one of your favorite cocktails on the menu?
We're really excited about the charred-corn cocktail. It's a tequila cocktail, but we've infused the tequila with activated charcoal to give it a little texture and that black, sexy color. Then we add corn that's cooked over wood in its husk, before peeling the husk back to give it some char. We cut all the kernels off, make a syrup out of it and add fresh lime juice. We also grate activated charcoal in the salt, so we give you a charcoal-salted rim on this fresh tequila-and-corn cocktail that smells like sweet, sweet roasted corn. That kind of sets the vibe for the cocktails we're doing.
What's a standout entrée you recommend trying?
I'm really in love with this smoked opah belly that we're doing. We smoke the belly and cut it up into pieces. And in season right now are these wax beans. So we have these long beans and then a perfectly sous vide soft-cooked egg that's just cut in quarters. You would think that the opah belly's the star, but it really just adds brine and smoke to these really crisp, tasty beans, and then the egg for the texture. It's incredible.
How do you spend your time off the clock?
Lately, I've been really into cycling. I also draw and paint a little bit. I carry a sketchbook with me and go sit on a bench somewhere. I just like to draw what's around me. It's a little bit of Zen.
What are your long-term ambitions?
In five years, I want to have a place of my own, working with the owner of Campfire. He's really setting the precedent for me and putting me on the path to partnership and ownership in the next few years. I definitely want to open a cocktail bar.
This is the Fall Fashion issue. Is fashion a big part of your life?
Oh, yeah. When I was working at Craft & Commerce, we had suspenders and stuff, and I completely embraced it. I love looking sharp. I love trousers and button-down shirts. I keep my hair cut high and tight and slicked back, and I always like to wear a nice pair of boots.
CAMPFIRE, 2725 State St., Carlsbad, 760.637.5121, campfireprovisions.com
Leigh of the Land
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Current 'hood: [Having just moved to Carlsbad] "I'm three blocks from the water, and three blocks from Campfire."
Childhood dream: To be a baseball player.
Favorite movie: The Waking Life. "That film was a brain-buster for me."
Current jam: Anything by Dallas Green (aka City and Colour). "I've never heard a voice like his."
Hero: Sasha Petraske (founder of NYC's cocktail bar Milk & Honey). "He did everything his way."
Sense of style in five words: "Love is in the details."
Favorite quote: "Art is never finished, only abandoned." — Leonardo da Vinci