TMIP, the literal farm-to-table restaurant headed up by Brandon Baltzley, has begun taking reservations in anticipation of a June 12 opening. Baltzley says that the reservations are more of "a waiting list type of scenario" just in case any delays arise, but he doesn't foresee there being any. He expects construction on the property's restaurant and kitchen (originally built in 1861) to be complete by May 25.
The restaurant, which is shooting to be a sort of hillbilly-ish American cousin to what René Redzepi is doing at Copenhagen's Noma (in fact, Baltzley did a stage under Redzepi in 2013), has evolved beyond what Baltzley and farmer/partner Leigh Hansen originally intended. "For us, it's more about being able to tell the story of what was previously here," Baltzley says. He continues, "We want to show people a way of life that has been around for thousands of years and is becoming obsolete."
Research into Native American cooking methods and food preparation of the region has radically changed Baltzley's cooking. At a preview dinner this past March, he and his crew, which includes sous chef Jeff Williams (who was 19 when he began working at Washington's Willows Inn, run by recent James Beard-winning chef Blaine Wetzel), prepared dishes featuring beaver, black bear, elk heart and more that were a direct result of this research.
The restaurant and the farm is getting a switch-hitter in Kate Foerster, whose experience should benefit both. Foerster was a co-owner and operator of Herbal Turtle Farms, a community-supported agriculture project and specialty mushroom operation (Foerster is certified in wild mushroom identification) and has been working in kitchens the past year.
In addition to farming duties, Hansen is handling the brewing of TMIP's own beer and wine. "We wanted to be able to have as much control over our beverage program as we do our food," Hansen says.
Despite not having any previous experience, she's "enjoying the reading and experimentation aspect" of brewing. Rose petals, rosemary and green tomatoes all find their way into Hansen's ales and wines. The beer and wine brewed on site is offered gratis along with either tasting menu, but they will offer wines from the Niagara Valley region for an additional cost if someone so desires.
Both Baltzley and Hansen are committed to sourcing as much of what the restaurant uses from their farm, but when that's not an option they're looking as local as possible. New Carlisle, Indiana's Black Tree Studio Pottery is creating plates and bowls that will intermingle with Civil War-era China Baltzley inherited from his grandfather. Chicago's Sparrow Coffee is creating a custom blend for the restaurant which will also feature their own with native roots (chicory, dandelion).
Once open, service will be from Thursday through Sunday for up to ten guests (space to add four more seats is in the works) and will feature both a lunch ($95 per person) and a dinner service ($125 per person) over three staggered seating times each. Guests will choose between two tasting menus (essentially one menu, but they are able to swap out any animal protein with vegetables to make a vegan menu), which will have no fewer than 12 courses, but could feature as many as 20.
You can make your ticketed reservations for TMIP now by calling 219-814-4930 Monday through Friday between noon and 3:00 p.m. A 50 percent deposit is required when making reservations.
· TMIP [Official Site]
· All Brandon Baltzley & TMIP Coverage [~ECHI~]