Back when I wrote about my first bite at Forager Brewery, it wasn’t easy.
Not because the beer isn’t good (it is). Not because the food is freaking delicious (it is). Not because owners Annie Henderson and Sean Allen didn’t create the perfect, laid-back, cool vibe in this multi-functional space (oh, they did).
It wasn’t easy to write about because this column has a word limit. And I can’t cover every dimension of what they’re doing except to say it’s one of the most ambitious culinary experiments in Rochester (which I did).
It’s not like a typical restaurant opening, with all the buzz right at the beginning. The more news that comes out of Kutzky Market and Forager Brewery, the more exciting it gets.
For example, the Kutzky Market coffee shop is also open, featuring espresso and tea drinks of every stripe along with a beautiful selection of homemade sweet and savory pastries made by in-house pastry chef Rachael Loney. The usuals are espresso brownies and salted chocolate chip cookies, but she’s going to be rotating in some pumpkin and gingerbread flavors soon, so keep comin’ back.
Kutzky Market is also now open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., so you don’t have to wait until dinnertime to grab a more substantial bite to eat. The artisan market is also now open, featuring local talent and lots of unique items for sale.
They also just started offering brewery tours every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For a $30 ticket, you’ll go behind the scenes with head brewer Austin Jevne to learn about his equipment and techniques, get a complimentary pint, and of course, sample all the beers on tap. Grab your ticket online for a tour.
The part that I’m even more crazy excited about, though, is the pop-up restaurant feature, where hopeful restaurateurs can try their hand at running a commercial kitchen for a night or a week. I was thrilled to find out that one of the first pop-up restaurants will be Thai Pop, featuring authentic Thai cuisine such as phla nua (Thai beef salad), pak bung groob krung (deep fried crispy morning glory with shrimp salad) and kra dook moo oob nam phung (slow-cooked short ribs caramelized in honey and Thai herbs, or as I like to call them, OMG).
Thai Pop hopes to start cooking in mid-October. I expect I’ll have lots of up-to-the-minute news about pop-up restaurants in the months to come. Thanks for making my job easy, and delicious, Kutzky Market! Go visit them at 1001 Sixth St. NW in Rochester.
New chef to shape the flavor of Tonic
For years, I’ve wondered how Nicci Sylvester can do it all. As the owner of Tonic, 1217 Second St. SW in Rochester, she creates the menu, manages the restaurant, cooks the food and just generally puts her passion into everything she does. She probably also mops and locks up at night.
When I last visited Tonic, they had 95 pounds of grapes sitting in a cooler near the back tables — I found out later they used them to make low-sugar grape jam for Tonic guests. I mean.
Now, Sylvester will be able to pour some of that amazing energy into making Tonic even better, because she’s hired a chef to head up the kitchen and refresh the menu.
James Sisler will be cooking up more creative specials, expanding the evening and holiday menu selections, and highlighting unique flavor combinations — all while staying true to the Tonic ethos of fresh, local, healthy, now.
Kudos, Nicci, and congratulations to Mr. Sisler on joining such a dedicated team. If you can take Rochester’s best restaurant (Rochester Magazine, 2014) and the best juice bar in Minnesota (WCCO, January 2015) and make it better? I might just stop by every day to see what they’ve got going on.