Local meat maven Chris McKenzie and Completely Sauced chef-owner Bob Komanetsky joined forces mid-February to open Mac’s Local Eats at Tamm Avenue Grill, to the delight of carnivores and locavores alike.
The two pros cranked out smash burgers made from dry-aged beef, house-made Andouille spicy sausage bites, crispy boudin balls, chicken sandwiches, and served German-style salt and pepper brats. Simple things done extremely well, right down to the house mustards, pickles, and remoulade.
“We’re not doing the meatloaf plate stuff with sides of green beans and mashed potatoes. We’re doing food you hold in your hands,” McKenzie says. They’re cooking foods to enjoy with a beer or a drink in the newly-renovated Tamm Avenue Grill or on the spacious patio.
Tamm Avenue owners Bob Brazell, Ryan McDonald, and Benjamin Strake extended the kitchen take-over offer to McKenzie at just the right time, for all parties. Major water damage shut down the Dogtown restaurant in December. Rather than simply repair and re-open, the three owners took time to study what changes they wanted to make.
Photo credit Mac's local Eats
Last year’s patio improvements, outdoor bar, and game-room-in-a-garage at the Grill generated new customers. Their dog-friendly patio drew friends and Fidos to the space, filling a need in Dogtown, where there is no dog park. In addition to adding a second bar to improve service and flow, Brazell, Ryan, and Strake decided to change the entire kitchen set up and asked Chris McKenzie to step in as an independent restaurant inside the Grill.
“As soon as I got the offer, I called Bob Komanetsky to partner with me. He’ll be heading up the kitchen and back of house while I’ll be front of house,” McKenzie says. “We’ll be cooking with quality proteins, from my local sources, like the dry-aged beef we use for our burgers.
“We grind the whole cow, not just the trim or tougher cuts. That’s why our burgers are so much more flavorful. We’ll be using every part of the animals, like making pork rinds from the skin or pork liver pate, half-liver, half meat, or a pho using the bones for broths,” McKenzie says.
Komanetsky agreed. “We’ll be a 100-percent from scratch kitchen. No shortcuts here,” he said. Although he and McKenzie haven’t worked out the details on the menu yet, there will be some carry-over from Komanetsky’s Completely Sauced menu as well as seasonal specialties. “With Chris’s animal sourcing contacts, we’re working with the best proteins available,” he says. “This all happened so fast. We’re still in the planning stage.
“We opened Friday, February 17. By Sunday, with only word of mouth, we sold out in three hours. Twice as many people showed up as we anticipated,” Komanetsky says.
Hard as it is to open a new restaurant, the two partners face an even bigger challenge March 17. “We’re less than one month away from St. Patrick’s Day in Dogtown,” McKenzie says. “We will be ready.”
The menu will be small, but the tastes mighty. “We’re not skipping on quality here. We’ll be offering a salt and pepper brat from Swiss as well as a corned beef brat we’ll be making in house served with Russian dressing and quick pickled cabbage,” Komanetsky says.
When the opening and the St. Patrick’s Day festivities wind down, look for specials and an expanded menu. “We’ll be serving the house made Andouille and boudin in a number of preparations,” Komanetsky says. Look for the Cuban and other favorites from the Completely Sauced menu to join the line-up soon, as well as smoked cuts of bacon, jowl, and porchetta.
Even though a lot has happened in a few short weeks, the innovation will continue into the spring.
“Mac’s Local Eats is step one for us,” McKenzie says. “In late April or early May, we’ll open Mac’s, a small store, like a bodega. There isn’t a place in Dogtown where people can pick up a few groceries. One thing we’ve learned is the people who live here walk to the shops and stores. They support neighborhood businesses.”
In addition, Mac’s new store will serve as a pick-up point for subscribers to Mac’s Local Buys, McKenzie’s bi-weekly CSA distribution of locally produced proteins, vegetables, breads, and more that operates spring through fall. “Many of our CSA customers will be new to Dogtown,” McKenzie says. “Mac’s Local Buys will celebrate five years in business on March 15, so this is another milestone for us. You never know, we might even have a pig roast out here on the patio.”