If you haven’t been to Brazen Open Kitchen + Bar, this gem needs to go on your list of places check out. Coming up on its three year anniversary, Brazen is an excellent addition to the Dubuque food scene with fresh, made from scratch meals that support local farms.
When I sat down with chef and owner Kevin Scharpf, three words were always at the tip of his tongue: fresh, authentic, and genuine. “People are drawn to things that are authentic and genuine, the things that are made in small batches. Everyone wants that thing. And behind that thing is a person, not a machine, and it is warm and inviting and we support that.”
The restaurant prides itself on being a farm to table experience, and they practice what they preach. Not only do they have relationships with several area growers to supply the ingredients on their menu, but they also have their own garden. This garden gives Brazen employees the opportunity to connect directly with the food they prepare by planting and harvesting some of the fresh fruits and vegetables they use in the restaurant. Ingredients like tomatoes, kale, leeks, and beets, when they’re in season, all come from the Brazen’s own garden.
If that wasn’t enough, Brazen doubled down on their commitment to fresh even in the design of their restaurant. The open nature of the kitchen allows those dining to watch their food being expertly plated and prepared by a trained culinary staff. But what guests can’t see is that the restaurant has no freezer space, so there is no choice but to use the best and freshest ingredients to prepare their meals.
At Brazen there is always something new, even if you’ve been there several times, there will always be something different to try. During the growing season, the main dining area showcases a blackboard listing the current fresh and local items, so customers know exactly what is in season. Even in the winter, certain ingredients like lettuce and greens, mushrooms, and microgreens are still available fresh from growers in the area. Of course, if you aren’t up for something new, Brazen also offers standard Midwestern favorites like fried chicken, burgers, and homemade pizza. But don’t be fooled, even these standard comfort foods are expertly prepared from scratch to give that authentic, homemade touch you won’t find anywhere else.
Going into 2018, Brazen hopes to expand their garden and supply even more of the ingredients that they use. Guests can also look forward to new and seasonal menu items and tons of new ideas to push the limits of what you would expect from a farm to table restaurant. If you are interested in some of their local menu items, check them out on social media @brazenopenkitchen and see some amazing dishes, ingredients, and works in progress!
So, next time someone asks the question, “where do you want to go for dinner?” Check out Brazen Open Kitchen + Bar in downtown Dubuque’s Millwork District. You’ll be glad you did!