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East Coasters Turned California Restaurant Owners

Monique and Jonny Black placed their roots—and a restaurant—down in Carmel.

By Amanda Christensen

In the heart of the Monterey Peninsula in Carmel sits Chez Noir, an intimate restaurant with a focus on locally sourced coastal seafood that includes the famed Abalone (marine snails) Monterey County is known for.

After spending several years in New York working at various restaurants and opening many others, husband-and-wife team Monique and Jonny Black chose Carmel as their permanent home and decided to open Chez Noir last October.

“I had really fallen in love with [Monterey County] and raising our family here, so we decided to stake our flag here and open a restaurant,” Monique says.

Fan favorites include the Abalone Skewers made with Bay Laurel, liver butter, and Meyer lemon; and the house-made brioche. Popular drinks include the East of Eden, a house martini made with gin and vermouth washed in Other Brother Co. olive oil; and the Grapes of Wrath, a Brandy cocktail with Allspice Dram, beet, yogurt, and lemon.

Get a sip of myriad cocktail choices from Chez Noir’s bar.

Host an intimate event here for up to 54 people seated at both the outdoor patio (capacity of 24) and inside (capacity of 30). “It means a lot to me when I see people choosing to have their [event] here,” Monique says. “It’s wonderful.”

Chez Noir’s outdoor patio

Because it’s a smaller venue, doing full buyouts creates a memorable event with ease. A progressive meal will begin with cocktails and appetizer stations, Monique noting that Chez Noir is known for their caviar and shellfish stations, followed by a seated dinner.

“It feels intimate and warm, [like] you’re at your friend’s house,” she says. “It feels personal and elegant.”


All photos are courtesy of Erin Ng