There’s nothing like throwing a six-course meal for about 50 people less than two weeks after opening, but that’s what chef Mandy Barrett did last week at The Brasserie at Third Window Brewing Co. She had to, as Third Window has this thing about St. Barbara — the East Haley Street brewery in The Mill complex is even named after the setting of her legend — and they like to throw her a party on December 4, her feast day.
Barrett more than rose to the occasion, cranking out dishes like house-made ricotta with fanciful fruits (the tangerines, they’re carbonated; the persimmons infused with black tea!) and wood-fired lamb shank, smoked with staves from the barrels that made Third Window’s annual Bierbara, a uniquely spiced quad ale with ingredients connected to the saint. You’d think she’d been running the kitchen — which is in that small hut next to The Mill’s parking lot — for years.
As it turns out, she has been with Third Window for years. “Mandy had been hanging around here since before we opened,” explained Third Window founder Kris Parker. “She’s one of our biggest beer geeks.” It didn’t hurt that she also had kitchen experience at both C’est Cheese and The Lark.
“Our food is built around the beer,” Parker described of The Brasserie’s mission. “You can’t separate the food from the beer and vice versa.” So Barrett beer-batters the jalapeño poppers, uses saison brewer’s yeast in the waffles for the delightful chicken and waffles, and gets to be Parker’s flavor scout. “Mandy going to the farmers’ market weekly is a big plus, as I get insight into what’s fresh,” he said. “We want to explore the idea of terroir with beer and then having that expressed in the food, too.”
Much of that food comes from the wood-burning oven, which not only adds delicious smokiness to the food but also allows for more space inside the tiny 230-square-foot kitchen, as the bulk of it is outside the building’s wall. But no matter the equipment, expect lots of change for the menu.
“A lot like [with] our beer, we like not having a set menu intact,” Parker explained. “It’s a perpetual soft open. We’re never static with our food and beer. We want to make things better.”
Third Window Brewing Co., 406 E. Haley St., Ste. 3; (805) 979-5090; thirdwindowbrewing.com