The bar has been raised lately on Fenton’s dining scene, literally and figuratively. The latest additions to the long menu of great food destinations there have shown to be an enlightened take on pub fare. The days of a greasy burger and fried bologna sandwich to accompany your PBR are long gone. Take a seat at any of Fenton’s newest bars, and you are more likely to find organic beef and craft beer.
The Barn was the first on the scene back in 2015. Following a long overdue renovation of the former Mo Doggies space at North and Torrey Roads, owner Jason Warda introduced the area to his take on casual, coastal-inspired fare. The menu is an updated approach to typical pub grub. Updated and innovated is more like it.
Appetizers are interesting twists on familiar flavors. Tater tots and spicy buffalo sauce merge in the Buffalo Blue Tater Balls. A crowd favorite like mozzarella sticks gets an overhaul by way of hand-battered 100 percent real mozzarella cheese squares accompanied by a spicy California ranch sauce, known as “Square Tails” on the Barn’s menu.
It’s been said that the true measure of any bar, pub, tavern, and so on is by the quality of its hamburger. The Barn does not disappoint. Focusing on quality, it crafts all burgers from Certified Piedmontese beef. This breed of cow, originating in northwest Italy, produces an especially tender, lean and flavorful beef.
“I wanted to focus on fresh healthy options for bar food to go along with our California theme,” says Warda. “Peidmontese is just that, a healthier option for beef. Trying to make our dishes from scratch and using the best ingredients I could use also helps.”
The Barn’s location makes it a perfect stop for a host of regular customers. “The volleyball and skating have helped a lot,” says Warda. “Really made us a destination.”
He mentioned that they will be installing a refrigerated curling rink to add to the unique entertainment options available to their customers. “Great way for people to get out and active and meet new people,” he says.
Corner Bar & Grill
Situated in a storefront space just outside the city limits is the Corner Bar & Grill. In the late summer of 2015, owner Justin Knight entered the local restaurant scene with a new concept for the former Raymo’s space. The menu is short on offerings but long on taste. Self-proclaimed to be “Fenton’s rock ’n’ roll gastro pub,” it focuses on offering a curated selection of craft beer from around the country, a full bar and a menu that packs bold flavors into every selection.
A crowd favorite, the Ribeye Nacho, is perfect for sharing with the whole table, or hoarding for yourself. It’s an amazing amalgamation of shaved meat and cheese atop house-made tortilla chips. A great twist that most kitchens don’t take the time to perfect is the offering of house-made potato chips with the burgers and sandwiches. For another option, though, you can enjoy rosemary fries with your meal. The bright, fresh herb-tossed French fries are the perfect addition to the meaty hamburgers.
“We have got a great team that makes all that magic happen,” says Knight. “[Chef Justin Trombley] is very meticulous with everything and has done great with bringing a high standard with his recipes. He really has raised the bar on bar food.”
The Corner Bar’s weekend brunch is well worth the agony of getting out of bed early on Saturday or Sunday. “I highly recommend the Breakfast Hash, it’s one of my favorites,” says Knight. “Chef Justin makes his own chorizo that is fantastic. You also cannot go wrong with the Chicken and Waffles.”
The Relief & Resource Co. and El Topo
The enthusiasm for hand-crafted cocktails and the resurgence of Prohibition era classic cocktail recipes has not been overlooked in Fenton. In August of 2016 drinkers and diners alike were pleased to be introduced to two new concepts on Mill Street. Although they are housed in an otherwise nondescript building. The team behind The Laundry, Crust and Lynchpin Beer Company has yet again made a resounding impact on the area’s dining scene.
“The new space certainly affords a greater opportunity for creativity.”
– John Foley
Venerable Laundry barman John Foley was tapped to curate a very ambitious menu of both classic and original cocktails for The Relief & Resource Co. Meanwhile, The Laundry’s long-celebrated executive chef, Jody Brunori, took on the task of penning two new menus. Brunori’s workload is the result of the clever marriage of a traditional taco stand, El Topo, and a discreet speakeasy, The Relief & Resource Co.
El Topo, located street side, is the front for Fenton’s only blind pig (that the author knows of). A succinct menu of traditional Latin American street food features creative yet approachable tacos and snacks. The vieja escuela, or “old-school,” taco featuring ground beef and traditional accompaniments is available for the less adventurous, while the Al Pastor or Pork Belly Arepa featuring crisp pork belly, pickled onions and Cotija cheese is perfect for a late-night, bold “fourth meal.”
While Brunori is busy wowing diners with her mesmerizing menu of tacos, Foley holds down the bar in the back of the building. “The cocktail menu specializes in a larger style range of cocktails and will probably represent a greater focus on prep, obscure liquors and ancient drinks than The Laundry,” says Foley.
The Relief & Resource Co. is an intimate space with low light and cozy seating. “The new space certainly affords a greater opportunity for creativity, as we are only open for one service a day, versus the breakfast/lunch/dinner environment at The Laundry,” adds Foley. A menu of small plates and rotating selection of artisan cheese and charcuterie are perfect for sharing with friends. However, how you get from one space to the other is better left to be discovered by the reader than explained in a “canned” magazine feature.