Using the grass all the way to the root, Seth Baas’ new restaurant Pitchfork Pretty offers a seamless dining experience with attention to detail in the kitchen and at the table.
The restaurant opened June 14 and in just over a month has garnered a loyal customer base. The menu consists of dishes that use vegetables grown in the restaurant's garden, harvested the same day they are used in the restaurant for dinner.
General manager Alexander Dubey said they didn’t spend a lot of resources on advertising before opening in order to not overhype the restaurant from the outset.
“It’s all been grassroots and word of mouth,” Dubey said. “We are very conscious about flying very low under the radar. We’ve not set a bar. We want people to set the bar for us.”
Okra, eggplant and peppers are among the daily harvests of the garden. Often the species of vegetable is handpicked by chef Max Snyder to be visually appealing, such as in the yucca dumplings, which are accented with star-shaped okra. Snyder said the garden gives him the opportunity to use every part of a plant, such as flowers and leaves.
For example, the yellow flower of a cucumber plant is used to garnish beer-pickled cucumbers. Snyder uses unusual parts of the plants, which adds a whole new dimension to the dishes.
“We try and incorporate as much variety and diversity from the farm but also from each individual plant too,” Snyder said. “We want to have a garden so we can see plants moving through all the different stages (and use them).”
They originally intended to grow herbs inside the restaurant, but when a plot of land became available near the restaurant, the team decided to take the project on. Though the garden demands a seasonal menu, Snyder said this gives him more creativity to create dishes that look and taste delicious.
“The ingredients totally inform creativity,” Snyder said. “The limitations of your region are definitely very helpful in the creative process because it gives you a box to work inside of.”
The customers notice the creativity and detail that go into every one of the dishes Snyder prepares. Paul Morgan, a two-time customer, said he has never even thought about many of their flavor combinations before.
“The butter they use is locally sourced, but they add miso to it (which) completely changes the flavor of the butter,” Morgan said. “It’s not something you would encounter (and) certainly not a chain restaurant.”
With an open floor plan, the restaurant never feels claustrophobic despite the plentiful seating. The spaetzle with broccolini and apples is light, filling and tasty. The waitstaff carefully executes table service by clearing the table regularly and asking about dietary restrictions. Morgan said the attention to detail makes Pitchfork Pretty stand out among other restaurants.
“The time it takes to apply tiny flowers to butter is not going to be valued at other restaurants,” Morgan said. “If they pay that much attention to the butter they give you for the bread, you can pretty well guarantee they’re watching everything else as well.”