VALLE DE GUADALUPE, B.C. – When I visited chef Ryan Steyn’s El Clavo Cocina de Baja last year at its former location next to winery Madera 5 in Ensenada’s industrial zone, I asked the chef about his new project’s name. He explained “El Clavo means to ‘nail it’, to do something really good.” I sampled about a half dozen of Ryan’s dishes that day – from fish tacos to empanadas to a Baja Med preparation of octopus – and indeed, the chef nailed each of them in both presentation and flavor.
After two summers helming the seasonal El Jardin por Ryan Styen at Adobe Guadalupe, Ryan and his wife and business partner Suzy Monsalve have reincarnated El Clavo as a seasonal campestre kitchen in a cozy corner of charming winery Quinta Elemental. Opened by renowned winemaker Reynaldo Rodriguez and his son Reynaldo Jr. in 2006, the winery is considered one of the area’s oldest when measured against the Valle’s growth during the ensuing decade.