A few steps through the main doors of Krog St. Market and a wave of aroma hits you square in the nose — rich and fatty notes of Fred’s burger stack and garlic herb fries are complimented by the Szechuan heat of Gu’s dumplings and sweet, pillowy bao from Suzy Siu’s. Crispy undercurrents of Richard’s hot chicken waft hand in hand with the spiced falafel from Yalla. This complex bouquet of tantalizing smells has a newcomer in the midst, bringing something to Krog St. unlike anything available before. Welcome, Recess.
Recess, newly opened by the Castellucci Hospitality Group, is bringing a much needed plant-powered punch to the dining landscape at Krog. While Recess does offer entrees with meat and as add-ons to their grain bowls and salads, it’s a delight to find a place where the vegetarian options reign above all. Not only are dietary needs easily met, but the vegetables (and everything else) are treated with a deftness and sophistication that feel like fine dining. This is no average juice and bowl bar. With more trips filed under “research” than we’d like to admit, we’ve gotten not only the scoop on what to order, but a glimpse into the culinary gears of what makes our current favorite female chef in town, Victoria Shore, tick.
With her professional introduction to the culinary world having been on an organic farm at a bed and breakfast in Maine, it makes perfect sense Victoria Shore’s journey has led her to her current role at Recess. That, and her experience at Cooks & Soldiers, Sugo and more, of course. With the departure from more the regionally focused menus of some of the other Castellucci concepts, Shore is now freed, working in the new flavor palette that Recess provides. “It was fun for us to get to stretch a little bit and say, ‘oh I want to add a little cumin or turmeric,'” she recounts, reflecting on her role with the team in crafting the concept.
After getting order recommendations from Shore, it’s not surprising her favorites are now ours as well. The lamb sandwich, described by Shore as “new and different for the market,” is layered with pickled fennel, minty green pea mash and ricotta. It’s indulgent and creamy, and yet still fresh and approachable — and this is a theme you’ll find no matter what you try. Nothing you eat at Recess will leave you wanting to run a marathon the next day. The squash side, with roasted kabocha and spaghetti squashes tossed with glass noodles and sesame chili oil, is a perfect accompaniment to the very interesting broccoli toast, which is topped with charred broccoli, smoked ricotta and tomato jam. Trust us, it’s bewilderingly good. The real show stoppers, however, are the grain bowls. They are textural, layered with piles of herbs, roasted and toasted vegetables, swirls of purees and sauces that take them over the top. The Casablanca starts with a swipe of Moroccan spiced carrot puree at the bottom of the bowl and from there beluga lentils, Swiss chard, seared okra and feta pile on. Add some crisp puffed rice and crunchy buckwheat and you’ve got grain bowl perfection (we also love adding a seven-minute egg and some avocado as well).
The beverage program seems to always perfectly compliment the menu, whether you opt for a glass of vino from their fairly international wine list or choose a turmeric tonic soda, almond date shake or a glass of Frosé. The cocktails are also not too sweet — a favorite has been the Cucu Coco, an aptly named cucumber coconut concoction with vodka, lime and a hint of agave.
Recess seems to strike a perfect balance between delicious and healthy and never sacrifices flavor, but when we asked Victoria Shore how she strikes a balance off the plate, there seems to be less: “It’s a fine line … so much of what I enjoy doing is cooking for myself and friends and going to the farmer’s market.” Shore also mentions goals to work with local farms, and that Recess’s menu will definitely be making seasonal adjustments as ingredients become more or less readily available. With this holistic approach to food, however, we can only imagine in this case that work overlapping life being a really tasty and not-so-bad thing.
All the talk of farmer’s markets has us wanting to take Recess home with us (which you can definitely do at the to-go counter), but Shore also has some quick recommendations to letting those farmer’s market ingredients shine Recess-style and freshen up your weekly routine. Shore instantly suggests cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, reminding that kale, broccoli, and cauliflower last forever in the fridge and are super simple to throw together. Vegetable toast is her go-to currently, and quickly gives us instructions to “thinly shave and toss veggies with salt, lemon juice, olive oil with some butter, maybe hummus if you are trying to keep it vegan.” She continues, suggesting radishes and zucchini and carrots shave really well with arugula. Simple, gorgeous and delicious, and after seeing and tasting what can be done at Recess we will definitely take her word for it.
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