felt juicy anticipation after several conversations with friends who
had already dined at Braise, a new restaurant on South Second Street.
Every bite exceeded expectations.
After our server
explained the resident butcher, Dan Bolton, deconstructed a pig every
Monday for the restaurant, I ordered Crispy Pig and Creamy Polenta,
with Mascarpone and Sorghum Syrup. "Would that be pork
belly?" I asked our friendly, attentive server. I hoped Crispy
Pig would satisfy my curiosity about the belly and show me why anyone
would choose to eat pork fat.
arrived on the plate. The sweet-sour sorghum syrup was a perfect
complement to the crisp, yet tender bacon that covered the belly. The
belly was creamy, like the bone marrow in osso buca. Taken together,
the syrup, the tender-crisp bacon, and the fat, added up to that
overused, albeit appropriate word, "umami."
We found the
Veal Tenderloin with Celery Root Puree and Anchovy Butter another
perfect mash of flavors with just a hint of anchovy. My caramelized
Onion and Potato Tart came drizzled with vinaigrette and a sprinkle of
sunflower sprouts to heighten the individual flavors.
In addition to
the butcher board and the small plate, Braise serves entrée-size
dishes. We passed on the daily specials, Seared Trout with Fingerling
Potatoes and Winter Spinach Hash, Roast Chicken with Gnocchi, Grilled
Ribeye with Mustard Spaetzle, and Seared Duck Breast with Scallion
It takes a small
village in the kitchen at Braise to prepare those dishes. Along with
owner and head chef Dave Swanson, there are three line cooks, one prep
person, a butcher, a pastry chef, and someone in the brick oven
department. In addition to running the restaurant, Swanson in his
words is the "Peapod of farm home food delivery." He works
with about 200 farmers to bring their products to local restaurants
and into homes. "I want to get local food to people,"
Swanson says. Farmers drop off their products at a warehouse and
Swanson and his team take care of the rest.
understands the design aspect of the restaurant. We loved the
laminated pages from cookbooks on the wall, the bar where people sat
to watch chefs at work in the open kitchen, the barn wood in the
lounge, our table made from the floor of a bowling alley and our
1101 S. Second St.