Restaurant emphasizing locally sourced food replaces Ibiza Tapas in Northampton

  • Members of the upcoming Source restaurant forage for ramps on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Chef Jon Adler, right, and Dave Bagge forage for ramps for upcoming restaurant, Source, on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Katherine Adler trims the leaves off of ramp plants last week. DAN LITTLE

  • Katherine Adler, from left, chef Jon Adler, and Dave Bagge forage for ramps for upcoming restaurant, Source, on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Chef Jon Adler, left, and Dave Bagge forage for ramps for upcoming restaurant, Source, on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Members of the upcoming Source restaurant forage for ramps on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Members of the upcoming Source restaurant forage for ramps on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Members of the upcoming Source restaurant forage for ramps on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Chef Jon Adler, left, and his sister Katherine Adler, spent part of last week foraging for ramps to use for a new restaurant called sevenstrong. The restaurant will open in Ibiza Tapa’s old spot at 7 Strong Ave. DAN LITTLE

  • Chef Jon Adler, right, and Dave Bagge forage for ramps for upcoming restaurant, Source, on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Chef Jon Adler forages for ramps with members of the upcoming restaurant, Source, on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Chef Jon Adler forages for ramps with members of the upcoming restaurant, Source, on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Katherine Adler trims the leaves off of ramp plants while foraging with members of the upcoming Source restaurant on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

  • Katherine Adler trims the leaves off of ramp plants while foraging with members of the upcoming Source restaurant on Thursday. —DAN LITTLE

Published: 7/6/2016 3:34:48 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A new restaurant is set to open downtown this month with the goal of contributing to a cuisine specific to the Pioneer Valley.

The restaurant, sevenstrong, will be located at 7 Strong Ave., where Ibiza Tapas shuttered at the end of June. The restaurant will act as a café by day and a full-service restaurant during dinner hours. Save a few necessities like salt, sugar and oil, owners say all of its ingredients will be drawn from the Pioneer Valley.

Using local sources is central to the project, chef-owner Jonathan Adler said, and that means more than “just slapping a Local Hero on the window.”

“What we want is for five years from now, people to say, ‘they make Pioneer Valley cuisine,’ and everyone to know what that means,” he said.

Adler, 28, spent most of his 20s working in fine-dining restaurants in New York City and San Francisco, including Michelin-star restaurants Saison and the Breslin Ace Hotel, where he worked as sous chef.

Originally from East Longmeadow, he returned to western Massachusetts earlier this year and was considering going back to school for food science when he met his business partner, Sébastien Piekutowski. Piekutowski has lived all over the world, moved to the area in 2014 and worked for a time as sommelier at Con Vino.

The two have retained Ibiza owner Juan Suarez as a partner. Suarez could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Provisions co-owner Benson Hyde is also a partner. Adler and Piekutowski will handle the day-to-day operations, with Piekutowski running the front of the house and Adler handling the kitchen.

Adler and Piekutowski emphasized that sevenstrong’s local sourcing isn’t about being trendy. Instead, they said, the goal is to foster a local food community and celebrate underused ingredients.

“This area has so many resources, there’s no reason we can’t have a restaurant scene that’s on par with any other in the world,” Adler said.

Piekutowski talked about restaurants in places such as France and Italy that have spent generations developing cuisines using ingredients found only within a 20-mile radius from the restaurant.

“We’re not looking to compete or be a ‘cool’ restaurant, but to use that same, very logical and sound process,” he said.

It infuriates Adler that farms like Hilltown Grazers “can’t sell one pig a month and all these restaurants are ordering from Sisco.”

It makes little sense, he said, to get greens shipped here that will likely spend weeks in refrigeration when the area is overflowing with wild watercress.

Roughly 10 to 20 percent of the restaurant’s raw product will be locally foraged, Adler said. Adler’s sister will be the restaurant’s full-time forager in addition to handling its public relations and social media. She’ll keep lists of foraged locations that will be used judiciously “to allow the crop to replenish,” he said.

“We’ll be constantly looking for new spots, so we’re not putting all our eggs in one basket,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re actually doing a service, because lots of these things are considered weeds.”

Japanese knotweed, for example, is a weedy item that has a flavor similar to rhubarb. Adler also said he plans to make a jelly from dandelion flowers.

The things the forager plucks, he said, are items that would otherwise go to waste. Lichen, for example, is too time-intensive for the average person to go digging for and to make ready for eating. The earthy-flavored moss has to be professionally steamed in order to clear it of toxins.

One dish Adler said he would like to make is a sauce made of yogurt and pine piped into deep-fried, salt-dusted lichen.

By foraging for food and buying whole animals instead of priced-up parts, he said, he’ll be able to keep his food costs low enough to pay fair wages to the restaurant’s staff, which has already been largely chosen, and to charge reasonable prices.

Those prices range from pastries in the restaurant’s café hours at $3 to $5 to dinner entrees costing $20 or $25. The menu — which could change day-to-day — will also include share plates starring produce, charcuterie and a “staff meal,” a set of food that’ll cost about $9, modeled after the meals the staff shares every day.

The inefficient ways in which the national food system works sap nutrition from the products, Adler said. This spurs Americans to eat more in order to feel fulfilled.

“If I’m eating food that doesn’t have nutritional value, I’m going to need more of it in order to feel satisfied,” he said. “We don’t need to give you a plate with 12 different things — I can give you this one simple thing that’s nourishing for your mind, body and soul.”

It’s upsetting to Adler that items like beef heart are considered exotic, while pineapple is an ingredient handy in most restaurants.

“Even having lemon in your tea,” Adler said, means using an item that could never grow locally. Meanwhile, “pine needles have five times the amount of acidity.”

And the pursuit of local goods won’t stop during the winter, Adler said. The restaurant will use items that can endure the harsh winter conditions or can be pickled or cured in advance. They’ll also be using area greenhouses, and the restaurant has a root cellar.

The winter menu may bring out creative approaches to the available ingredients, he said. “There’s more than one way to approach an ingredient,” he said.

The restaurant is set to open by the end of the month, though there’s no set date yet. Adler said he wouldn’t want to tell people a date and then disappoint them by not being ready — just like his approach to food. “I’m not going to feed someone food if I haven’t tested it and made sure it’s perfect,” he said.

Adler said he doesn’t want anyone to think of what he’s doing as fine dining. It’s not fancy, he said, and he and Piekutowski aren’t in this to get rich. They say the restaurant aims to serve everyone, whether they’re on a budget or have money to burn.

“We want to offer experiences to everyone,” he said. “We’re not trying to be exclusive. We just want to provide something unique, and we want people to feel special when they come here.”

Amanda Drane can be reached at adrane@gazettenet.com. Jack Evans can be reached at jackevan@indiana.edu.




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