Core Brewing’s Argenta Public House location continues to turn out some very surprising dishes in the low key tap room. Chef Jeff Wetzel’s new fall menu is no exception, in fact it takes everything a step further.
If it feels like Core just recently released their first food menu, you are not wrong. Wetzel brought his Le Bouvier concept to Core’s Argenta location about a month ago, but the quick menu update for the fall was needed to keep refining his vision for the menu.
“I debated heavily on changing the menu this soon. Ultimately with fall coming in I wanted to go ahead and change it so that we have a menu that can be out for several months,” Wetzel tells us. “This is a much more hearty menu that brings in a lot of fall flavors. I really want to push the limit of what a tap room menu looks like.”
The tapas menu gets a nice, duck-heavy update by adding fried duck confit ravioli and duck and waffles. The ravioli comes out looking like a typical fried ravioli, but with a well cooked duck confit filling.
The duck and waffles is a great take on the traditional chicken and waffles. The Porcini waffle is divided up into quarters, then topped with a savory bite of confit duck leg that is topped with “port wine caviar”. This is simply port wine that has gone through spherification to resemble caviar, no roe involved. That along with the cherry maple syrup gives a nice splash of sweet to an otherwise savory dish.
“The best part about being in this location is that once a week there is a farmer’s market literally across the street,” Wetzel says. “Not only are we making everything completely in house, we are buying as many local produce as we can. The fall produce season is my favorite to build a menu around.”
The drive to use fresh ingredients combined with house made dishes really shines in the entree side. Wetzel is making fresh pasta before every meal service to go on the new Pork Belly Gnocchi, Pappardelle Pasta Bolognese, and Butternut squash dishes as well as the duck confit ravioli mentioned earlier. The fresh pasta really elevates those dishes higher than expected in the low key pub.
The pork belly gnocchi is the runaway hit here. To start it is not a traditional gnocchi, Wetzel blends in butternut squash for a decidedly different flavor, although the traditional gnocchi texture is spot on. The pork belly is perfectly braised for a crisp, but tender bite. Finally the whole dish is topped by an apple cream sauce that has chunks of apple and onion that has been slow cooked into the sauce.
The pappardelle pasta bolognese starts with a solid, but typical bolognese sauce filled with fresh ingredients. The pasta here is the real gem, it packs a very light and airy texture that you can only get from well made fresh pasta. The pappardelle is a good choice, it is much wider than most pasta noodles which holds plenty of the bolognese sauce while giving you a great bite of pasta.
The whole menu is not a complete rewrite, several favorites from the previous menu came over as well as some specials Wetzel has tested out over the past month. The buddha bowl is developing a solid following with the vegetarian crowd we are told, and the Moules Frites we tried as a special last time find a fixed spot on the menu. Others like the new cowboy chili pie will fit right into cooler weather.
One thing we are sad to see leave however is the excellent donut holes we had last time. In their place is a Pumpkin Mousse dessert that from name alone is a little deceiving. This is more of a badass deconstructed smore. It has a giant house made marshmallow that is toasted alongside a sliver of chocolate, pumpkin mousse, and house made gingersnap crumble.
All this together is a huge surprise, something we can’t quite get over. The prices on the menu top out around $13 (Moules Frites), but honestly with the care and quality Wetzel is turning out. It could easily be double the price in a different setting and no one would hesitate to order.
“I really want to give people good food for an honest price,” Wetzel says. “I would much rather someone feel like they can stop in here as often as they want to enjoy great food than having to make a special occasion out of it and spend more.”
The food really is breaking in on the level of some of the better restaurants in town. It stands in a stark contrast to the relatively low key and no frills tap room that Core has assembled in Argenta. Don’t pass over Core in Argenta though, there is some great food being cooked here.