A new flower has bloomed in Brookside, and it is a type not quite seen previously in these parts.
It is called Foolish Things Bar & Biscuit and sports a rather unusual checklist. Specialty coffee drinks? Check. Craft cocktails? Check. Beer and wine? Check. Biscuit sandwiches? Check. Flower arrangements? Check. Flower arranging workshops? Check.
The week-old business is an ambitious project from Katie and Justin Carpenter, owners of Foolish Things Coffee Co. downtown. Katie also is a business partner with Taylor Fowler in Ever Something.
The Carpenters opened Foolish Things Coffee six years ago, and a year later, Katie joined Fowler in Ever Something. Katie is the wedding and event planner and Fowler is the florist, hence the marriage of flowers, drink and food at the new restaurant.
“Katie and I wanted to do a concept together for a long time,” Justin said. “We looked at the Utica Square area and at Brookside. Henry Aberson reached out to us, and after hearing his passion for this part of town, we thought Center 1 was the right fit for us.
“Espresso always has been a big part of our business downtown, and I wanted a bar program with some breadth and depth. We also wanted a killer food program to complement the beverage program.
“Brookside has so many great places to eat, and we wanted something a little different but still fit the area. Katie and I like to travel, and we noticed the big towns, like Chicago and Kansas City, all had great biscuit places.”
We recently met several family members there for brunch. The beverage list, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic, is considerably longer than the food menu, which has 10 items offered from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 11 items from 2-10 p.m. Prices range from $4 to $15, but most dishes are in the $10 range.
We ordered the fried chicken biscuit sandwich ($11), steak biscuit sandwich ($12), veggie biscuit sandwich ($9), ham biscuit sandwich ($11), sweets and beets ($10), yogurt bowl ($10) and bonuts ($10).
The biscuit sandwiches all start with a big, thick biscuit cut in half, then one side is topped with various ingredients. All are topped with a poached egg.
The fried chicken is paired with honey butter, blue cheese, arugula and poached egg. The steak has a thin, brown sugar- and coffee-seasoned skirt steak, arugula, crema fresca and poached egg.
The veggie included beer-battered roasted tomato, avocado, arugula, roasted garlic aioli and poached egg. The ham featured three thin slices of flavorful ham, creamy horseradish apple butter, arugula and poached egg.
All were delicious, and it’s difficult to say any one of them stood out over the other. I could throw a dart at the biscuit sandwich menu and be happy.
The yogurt bowl had a fancy description with nuts, fruits and syrups, but it was a bit ho-hum compared to the other dishes. The sweets and beets, on the other hand, delivered levels of flavor with sweet potatoes, beets, roasted tomato, arugula, roasted garlic aioli and a poached egg.
Bonuts are fried biscuit balls, like doughnut holes, dusted in strawberry powder and served with containers of house-made blueberry simple syrup and grapefruit-infused Lomah Dairy soft cheese. We liked it best to put a little cheese on one side of the bonut, dip it into the blueberry syrup on the other side, then pop the whole thing in one’s mouth.
The beverage menus are cleverly divided into day drinking, anytime drinking and night drinking, as well as era-related — pre-prohibition, Prohibition and shortly after, dark days of cocktails and modern classics.
Foolish Things’ opening staff is impressive. Daniel Taylor, who has a fine-dining background, is executive chef. Baristas and bartenders include Matthew Land, David Jeffries and Mason Remel, all well-known throughout the industry. Bethany Edd is director of operations. Justin Carpenter himself went through the training program at Valkyrie bar.
“Aaron Post at Valkyrie is a great friend, and the training was very instructive,” Justin said. “We have a very collaborative staff overall, and there is a lot of camaraderie.”
The servers were friendly, but service was a little spotty. Six of us ordered at the same time, and some dishes came out 15 to 20 minutes apart.
The layout of Foolish Things Bar & Biscuit is as unusual as its concept. A small front dining area facing Peoria Avenue has a couple of wall counters. A long shotgun stretch down the middle holds the bar. A back dining area has one long communal table and several tables and chairs. The restaurant seats 85.
“Katie and I designed the space,” Justin said. “Because of the footprint, we had to think through how to handle it and make it an expression of our personalities.”
A cooler always will have fresh bouquets and arrangements available.
“We have a florist on staff 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. all week,” Katie said. “We also have flower decorating classes for up to eight people every month or bi-monthly.”