The Libertine Bar may have earned last year's Best Bar Food award with Rosanne Dileo heading the kitchen, but owner Simon McDonald is trying to look at her departure to LaGrange as an opportunity. Matt Reddick, formerly of Nonna, starts work tomorrow.
"The big thing is that he's trained at culinary school," McDonald says. "Rosanne's been great, but she didn't have any formal training. With Matt, we can say, 'Hey, we want to do steak au poivre,' and he'll know five different ways to do it. And he's a creative young guy."
One of Reddick's selling points to the Libertine is his experience and training at London gastro-pub The House and The Inn at Essex in Vermont, along with his education at New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. And, like Dileo, he's a beer enthusiast with plenty of experience cooking with beer and pairing menu items with complementary brews.
"As far as menu changes go, we will stick to our current one now, let Matt get used to our teeny-tiny kitchen, and from there they sky's the limit," McDonald says. "We shouldn't skip a beat and are excited for what he has planned for our North Coast Brewing Co. Beer Dinner in July."
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But Reddick says he's already got some menu ideas in mind to take The Libertine "to the next level" with dishes inspired by what he learned at The House and Nonna.
"We did traditional things like shepherd's pie, but with a twist, like use lamb shanks instead of ground beef," Reddick says of his time at The House, where he started as an intern and later became a chef de partie.
He has yet to hash out the extent of menu changes with owners McDonald and Mike Smith, but a few of Reddick's ideas include shepherd's pie with braised lamb shanks, curried lentils with andouille sausage ("I've got a good source in Louisiana for andouille," he says) and barbecue pulled pork tacos with spicy garlic black beans. He'd also like to add Italian-inspired fare to put to use what he learned at Nonna.
"I'd want to do as much fresh food as possible, like fresh-cut fries," he says. "I want to go to the farmer's market during the day and put it on the menu that night."