Brandon Peacock is now captain of a ship. That ship is actually a restaurant—Eve’s Waterfront, the newest establishment to inhabit the waterfront property on the edge of Jack London Square.
Peacock isn’t known for any particular style of food—whatever he does, he does well, whether it’s ramen from scratch, decadent mac and cheese, short ribs or rotisserie chicken. “The entire menu is new,” said Peacock. “I try to change as much as possible and take a new approach is on the classics.
He’s worked in over seven restaurants around the Bay Area, most recently at Mac Daddy in San Francisco, before becoming executive chef at Eve’s Waterfront. Peacock has also had an impressive resume of television culinary fame—he was a Food Network Chopped champion, runner-up on Guy’s Grocery Games and a finalist on American’s Next Great Restaurant.
Eve’s Waterfront is located away from the cluster of restaurants in the center of the square, sitting on the water near Estuary Park and Jack London Aquatic Center. It doesn’t look like much from the outside: A basic white and blue sign that reads “Eve’s Waterfront” is affixed to the restaurant’s brown, wooden, two-story exterior. A clear case hangs below the sign, displaying menus just to the left of non-descript black doors with clear glass panels.
But the space has long been a dining spot. After 30 years as a dining and entertainment destination, the Rusty Scupper closed its doors in 2000. It then became home to Zazoo’s Restaurant, a lively nightclub and Afghani restaurant; then Ajuzoun, a Korean-owned Japanese steakhouse and sushi spot. Its fourth and current iteration opened up in September, 2016.
“The vision for Eve’s Waterfront is to create the ultimate dinner and show experience,” says Eva Malki, the restaurant’s co-owner. “I would like to see us continue in providing excellent high quality chef-inspired entrees and to attract artists who can play during the dinner and to have a dance parties in the evenings.”
Malki says they’re working on planning a series of evenings of live bands and performances. They hosted a New Year’s Eve party and a St. Patrick’s Day party with a traditional Irish dinner and Irish band.
“Chef Brandon,” as he’s known in the kitchen, emerged out of a pool of over 100 chefs, making the cut after Malki and co-owner, her husband Chris Malki, interviewed about 15 other chefs. “He has an impressive background, both in local restaurants as well as other parts of the country and internationally,” said Eva Malki. “His style is diverse … high energy, a positive attitude, passion and creativity, and desire to build up both the restaurant and venue side of the business.”
“It just felt right. My family and I live here and I wanted to bring a little piece of paradise to the waterfront,” said Peacock, who also spent years living in Hawaii.
The experienced chef got his start at the California Culinary Academy in the 1990’s, then immediately jumped into the restaurant industry.
“Brandon seemed to know what we have been thinking in creating the menu. We explained we like local, fresh, and high quality ingredients that are prepared with love,” said Malki. “We wanted flavorful foods and he delivered on that.”
That day, Peacock was in the kitchen preparing for an 80’s extravaganza party, complete with a cover band. “Don’t Stop Believing” played in the dining room, and Peacock was busy, but not too busy to mosey over to a pair of diners who were surveying the menu. They sat in the carpeted dining area near the gleaming wood-planked bar, at a table covered with a white tablecloth, blue napkins and a lantern-esque candle.
“Anything you need, I can make it,” said Peacock to the duo. They told Peacock they were from the East Coast—and he is, too. He was born in Philadelphia and spent time in New Jersey and New York before moving west. He ended up creating them a completely off-menu meal: deep-fried shrimp and fish, with a side of coleslaw.
As for the actual menu, it’s a mix of both surf and turf, though the turf hardly takes a backseat to the turf. Eve’s must-have appetizers are the White Wine Stream P.E.I. Mussels and the Dungeness crab & avocado salad. A heaping portion of steaming mussels rests in a broth that’s so savory it begs for more than the two pieces of grilled sourdough bread slices it’s served with—and, according to one of Eve’s server, is often taken home once the mussels have been devoured. The broth is buttery, spiced with pepperoncini, and zesty thanks to the garlic, shallots and fresh herbs. The salad, an artfully arranged mélange of Dungeness crab and avocado, tossed in a vinaigrette encircled within a circle of thinly sliced cucumbers, is light, fresh and topped with cherry tomatoes.
The chef’s signature dish is the maple-fennel pork ribs. The menu doesn’t offer much detail about what exactly makes these ribs so delicious—there’s nothing about the BBQ sauce, whether they’re slow-roasted or marinated for days on end—you’ll only learn that they’re topped with crispy jalapeños and served with a side of spicy slaw. They’re piled high on a plate, with each bite as good as the last.
If you ask Peacock, he’ll tell you he wants to make food so good you won’t even reach for your phone to take a picture of it or rave about it on Snapchat. “I want to do go back to [the] dining of the old days before texting and cell phones at the dinner table,” he says. “People don’t converse any more. They’re always on their smart phones.”
Soon enough, Eve’s Waterfront just might be able to do that. Malki says that they’re in the process of adding back the boat dock that allowed diners of the Rusty Scupper era to dock and dine, and building a line-up of evening dinner performances. The restaurant recently started featuring a Saturday afternoon lunch and live music event on the restaurant’s outdoor deck under the tagline “Waterfront Jazz” that Malki says they plan to continue throughout the spring and summer because people have been responding positively to it. Live jazz is also featured during their Sunday buffet brunches.
Chef Brandon is fully on board. “You have to have to have something for everyone. We don’t want to limit ourselves,” he says. “I believe that in a restaurant everything needs to shine, even the floor.”