New American Cuisine Served in an Old Model T Factory
How often do you begin and end your stay at a restaurant with the thought, “What more could I ask for?”
Well, I could ask for nothing more than what was provided at Mary Eddy’s Kitchen & Lounge–all the way down to the chairs, made of recycled material.
Mary Eddy’s is housed, along with the 21c Museum Hotel, in the Fred Jones Manufacturing Building. According to James Tortoreti, Food and Beverage director, Mary Eddy’s gets its name from Mary Eddy-Jones, the wife of Fred Jones. She was known for her passion for the arts, which is made clear through the restaurant, hotel and museum’s naturally creative flair.
“Bringing new life to this historic building is really special,” Tortoreti says. “It’s surreal that our lounge and bar now serve as the showcase for the corner of Main and Fred Jones Way, in the same manner and on the same flooring as the Ford Model T showroom did almost 100 years ago.”
I walked into that old Model T building with the most average of expectations, having not heard of the restaurant in question and thinking only minimally of New American food. The elation came in waves. First when I entered and saw the moving art installation, positioned next to the entrance to the art museum itself.
Next when I was greeted by the friendly server, who walked me through the menu and brought me my first drinks and appetizer: the Eddy Go Jones and the Lamb Ribs, which seemed to fall off the bone and immediately melt in my mouth. Dare I say, this lamb was to die for.
I took a long look at the extensive wine list, which could quite possibly contain every kind of wine you could ask for (see, what did I tell you?), but I decided to partake in the craftsmanship of the cocktail list. I do love a good bartender.
The Eddy Go Jones was a hardy yet feminine beverage made of Plantation 5 Year Rum, lime juice, simple syrup and angostura bitters, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but my favorite of the drinks was the aptly named Tequila Mockingbird, and Tortoreti agrees.
“While I think we’ve created a very approachable cocktail list, with a really nice range, my favorite would probably be our Tequila Mockingbird. We make a house shrub, with blueberries, sage, white wine vinegar and sugar. About seven days of preparation goes into the shrub, resulting in this wonderfully tart, bold syrup. Our shrub, mixed with El Jimador Blanco tequila, is a cocktail you’ll remember.”
I will definitely remember this cocktail! And did I mention the Lamb Ribs? Mary Eddy’s is chef-driven, so we must pay our compliments to the chef.
Prairie Thunder Baking Co. bread graced every table, along with a side of full-fat butter topped with sea salt and a bit of rotisserie drippings. The bread crumbled softly as the butter peaked the flavor, and I was inclined to ask for more.
I had both the Spit Roasted Chicken and the Grilled Sunburst Trout. The chicken started with a brine for 36 hours, soon to be cooked on the rotisserie for four and a half hours–then eventually, it reached the plate–and boy, was it soft! The side of heirloom tomato salad with feta was just as good as the entrée, and as its tomatoes were multi-colored and of the grape variety, it both beautified the meal and complemented the flavor of the chicken.
My trout was served on puffed farro in a burnt-onion dashi sauce, with bento, napa cabbage and pickled scallion. It was both salty and savory, and I greedily ate every last bite.
When you go–which you must–ask about the desserts. The presentation of my key lime dish was a delight. I may be beaming at the thought.
It is a wonder how Executive Chef Jason Campbell can fit so many flavors into so many different kinds of dishes, and yet narrow it all down to one genre–an unexpected take on New American food. And what’s more American than serving a three-course meal in an old Model T factory? God bless it!
The restaurant and lounge opens daily at 5 p.m. Extended hours, breakfast, brunch and lunch will start in the coming weeks.