By Jolene Ketzenberger
The new restaurant from local chef Ryan Nelson has opened at 1250 E. 86th St. in the Nora Plaza with a focus on barbecue and moonshine, and if the preview event last Saturday was any indication, it’s going to be a hit.
For one thing, it’s a sit-down restaurant, which is rare in the Nora neighborhood. Plus, North End takes reservations, it’s comfortable without being too casual, and some pretty terrific food is coming out of the kitchen — and out of the restaurant’s two smokers. And while Nelson, who was executive chef at The Oceanaire Seafood Room downtown before opening his Late Harvest Kitchen in 2011, has a reputation for a deft hand with seafood, he certainly seems to have embraced barbecue.
“If our country has a national cuisine, it’s probably barbecue,” he said. “It’s all about cooking different cuts of meat over low temperatures for an extended period of time.”
And that cooking will be going on day and night at North End. “Ours is going to be a continual process,” Nelson said. “I’ve got someone who will be working through the night, like a meat porter, who will be adding meat through the night.”
Nelson has clearly put together a great team for his restaurant group, including North End general manager Colin Atterson, and chef Mark Marlar, who is helping launch North End before settling in at Late Harvest. (Both are formerly of Oceanaire).
But what about the North End menu? “It’s all very classic barbecue,” Nelson said.
As for sauces, look for a vinegar-based Carolina style, a spicy Texas version, a sweeter tomato/molasses-based Kansas City/St. Louis style and a classic sauce.
“All of our sauces will be on the side,” Nelson said. “We’re not serving wet ribs.”
The menu will also feature some items that are “not BBQ,” including a burger, catfish, entree salads and sides such as mac and cheese, baked beans, corn bread and collard greens. Sides are $3 to $5 each. Entrees and ribs range from $10 to $28.95. Meats come from Indiana producers such as Fischer Farms and Gunthorp Farms.
And as for the moonshine part of the restaurant’s name, you’ll find a moonshine punch on the cocktail list, a drink that was so popular at the preview event that Late Harvest Kitchen bartender Jason Foust, who created the cocktail list, had to make more before the evening was over.
For those unfamiliar with the moonshine category of spirits, “it’s unaged whiskey,” Nelson said. “There’s lots of legal, legitimate shines out there.”
The restaurant will also carry more than 50 kinds of bourbon. And as for sweets, you can expect such items as sugar cream pie, banana pudding and pecan pie parfait.