Raleigh, N.C. — Recently, the Berkeley Café was purchased by SLX, LLC, a partnership made up of Raleigh-native Lisa Lewis (Mitch Tavern), Raleigh-native Alex Little and Shonna Greenwell (Rebus Works). The three brought their individual talents and Sadlack’s history to revive this Raleigh icon. One of their ideas was to allow their kitchen to be taken over – similar to a bar or craft beer shop’s taps being taken over by a brewery.
The idea for food truck chefs to take over the kitchen started after Greenwell asked a food truck owner if they would like to work in the café’s kitchen. The owner responded maybe not full-time, but maybe once in awhile. Greenwell came up with the idea to tap the network of food truck chefs who operated at her Rebus Works' events and extend an invite for them to takeover the kitchen. Chef JP Murcia, of KocinA, and Chef Ryan Jacboson, of Manna, are on tap this month.
The first event that took place last night featured Chef Andrew Schaumann and Sol Taco + Provision concepts.
The first thing I took noticed was the Aqua Fresca on the menu. When I visited Sol Tacos at the Apex Farmers Market last year, the summer heat was brutal, so I checked out their aqua fresca, a mixture of watermelon and citrus flavors, to conquer my thirst. From that day on, I have been bugging Chef Schaumann about when the aqua fresca would return on the food truck. This version was garnished with a seasonally fresh watermelon.
While we waited for our first course, we were served grilled flatbread cut up with a Mexican oregano parsley chimichurri. What I found interesting was the bread’s texture. The garlic used in the chimichurri erased the thoughts of eating Mexican cuisine at all. It brought flashbacks of eating bread dipped in olive oil, garlic and spices at a nice Italian restaurant. I just wanted to sop up as much as I could on my piece.
For the first course (titled Anjojitos or Little Cravings), I shared the State Farmer’s Market salad and Stuffed Avocado. Some of the highlights in the salad were the fresh Heirloom Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, the warm North Carolina bacon vinaigrette and the peaches. The sweet, juicy peaches gave this summery salad a sweet taste that balanced some of its acidic components. I thought peaches were a great choice over another common seasonal fruit choice, strawberries, which can bring on more acid and tart bite. The stuffed avocado with topped with Outer Banks Yellowfin Tuna Crudo was similar to a summer ceviche in an avocado cup. The best part was squeezing the charred lemon over all the other components. Then, taking the tuna, the comeback sauce, shallots, avocado and spreading on the crackers. It was like an adult handi-snack.
The second course (titled Platos Principales) we shared the Taco Tasting and Pork Shoulder Tostada. The Taco Tasting was homage to the food truck featuring two fan favorites, the flounder taco and the chicken nacho taco. Included with the taco was Mexican fried rice and beans, which are also on the food truck menu. The pork shoulder in the tostada seemed familiar to the braised pork taco also served on the truck; However, this time it was braised using local Bombshell Brewery’s Head Over Heels IPA. Along with the pork taco and tostada was southern coleslaw, chipotle honey glaze, garlicky simmered beans, and fried onion straws. The coleslaw used the honey glaze as the dressing, which gave the feel a Western Carolina BBQ meets Mexican cuisine. Both cuisines are trademarks found in Sol Tacos cuisine.
For Dessert (titled El Postre) was a Bruleed Chocolate Flan. The chocolate flan had the texture of lightly fluffed mousse with a churro (think doughnut), whipped coconut crema and fresh berry marmalade. What I liked about this dessert was if it had flavors that teased the taste buds.
Next Tuesday, Chef JP Murica of KocinA will takeover with a Latin American inspired menu. Items like Argentinean empanadas, Brazilian pan de queijo, and seafood paella. The following Tuesday featured by Chef Jacobson will highlight a Farm to Table menu.
Art Sheppard covers food truck news in his blog, The Wandering Sheppard.