Come next week, beer lovers will finally taste chef Nick Lacasse's labors, as Half Acre Brewing Co. opens up its taproom's kitchen, serving unique burritos and other plates developed by the former Drawing Room and mfk chef. Opening day is Thursday, Jan. 14, and the menu (below) is a playful one that's not beholden to beer pairings. The kitchen will help feed drinkers who relied on bringing in food from nearby restaurants.
"It's just very comfortable, stuff we'd cook by ourselves when serving good beer with our friends," Lacasse said.
The Tribune first reported the opening date. Lacasse began working full time with Half Acre seven months ago, but the menu development has taken much longer. He's also in charge of Half Acre's other food project, an ambitious 200-seat restaurant inside their upcoming new brewery. That concept is different from the taproom's kitchen, and may include a cafe to feed nearby laborers as well a fine-dining area that LaCasse describes as "more choose your own adventure" where diners could create their own coursed-out meals. That should open later this year.
Meanwhile, the taproom's selections are more accessible. "There's no fancy garnishes, micro-greens, we're not doing sauce dots or plate solutions," Lacasse said. Don't expect items made with beer, either. Burritos make up half the menu, but there's aren't the greasy (and beloved) ones many are used to. There's a chicken noodle burrito that's Southeast Asian-inspired, crisping those wide-rice noodles found in pad see ew with Amish chicken that's spicy, garlicky, with a bit of acidity.
There's also Half Acre's version of nachos on the menu, called "Not Cho's." The house-made chips are proportionately placed in a single layer, baked and topped with science cheese sauce, a creamy concoction Lacasse borrowed from Honey Butter Fried Chicken's Christine Cikowski. The secret is the sodium citrate that helps emulsify the cheese. There's a lot of global influences on the menu, which also include a take on Indian butter chicken with the butter bok choy.
There's been a few seating reconfigurations at the taproom to make servers' lives easier. It's a full-service spot and staff underwent additional training, as the service component is important to Lacasse.
Eventually the burritos will be available to go, but for now check out the menu: