When it comes to tracking charisma, train your eyes across the river: Northeast has become our Brooklyn.
Artists have scored affordable working spaces, indie enterprises are flourishing, and so’s the food scene. Merging all three in a perfect storm of creativity is the Food Building on NE Marshall. The visionary behind the enterprise is that crazy-smart pioneer of all things tasty, Kieran Folliard. He bought the building to serve as a food-biz accelerator, whose tenants include Red Table Meat Company and Lone Grazer Creamery, supplying restaurant and home kitchens along with The Draft Horse, a casual café, invoking those fine products and others of local origin on its anti-fancy menu.
The room looks as if it’s been there forever—well, because it has. It served as part of a horse vet’s operation (thus the name) back in the day, and currently stables a saloon-type set-up of cooks scrambling behind a diner counter and a row of tables crammed below the art on the opposite wall.
The menu favors larger parties (though seating them may require creativity) with plates of mixed meats and cheeses ($12–$14) as starters and platters “serving 2-3” of short rib, brick chicken and roast pork as mains ($20–$24). They’re virtually ungarnished, so slide your gaze to the list of sides ($3–$10), as we did, to build your dinner.
We started with the house salad, a feisty bed of arugula bathed in an equally robust breath of mint vinaigrette (the combo is like eating spring). Green peas, Lone Grazer cheese and a translucent scroll of speck (more full-flavored than its sib, prosciutto) complete the composition.
Next, a lusty heap of pork ribs—meaty, moist and ideally crusty, naked except for a slither of pork demi. We paired them with a generous plate of charred Brussels sprouts tossed with Fischer Farm bacon and red-wine vinaigrette. Perfect (and enough to line our doggie bags). Calling our name, too, the gratin of cauliflower richly robed in Lone Grazer cheese sauce.
Hard to resist an order of mashed potatoes with bacon ($7) and gravy ($4), but we did, saving room instead for one of the kitchen’s pot pies ($13): short rib, roasted veggies or, our selection, Kadejan Farms’ chicken: tender white meat suited up with potatoes and carrots in a bit of flour-sturdied gravy under a slender, buttery crust (replacing the—for me, preferable—pie pastry of Granny’s repertoire).
Soups, too, and a couple of desserts: ricotta cheesecake or a fruit pie (serves half the room) with maple mascarpone. Next time. Beer, wine, cocktails (including those favoring Kieran’s 2 Gingers) and Spyhouse coffee keep the party going.
117 14th Ave. NE
612-208-1476 (no reservations taken)