At Blue Plate Kitchen in West Hartford, we have a simple philosophy when it comes to the food.
SOURCING + PARTNERSHIPS + LOCAL + RESPONSIBLE + SIMPLICITY + SLOW-CRAFTED + WHOLESOME + VALUE + EXECUTION = REAL "SOUL" FOOD
You cannot produce great food unless you start with great raw products. We work hard to source the best local, seasonal, sustainable products. This means focusing on farm-to-table produce, dock-to chef seafood, all-natural meats, artisan cheeses, and working with great purveyors.
Our purveyors, suppliers, local artisans, farmers and fishermen, aren’t just business relationships but partners with us in our business. We value these relationships and think we are stronger because of their knowledge, experience, commitment and passion. While we are a scratch kitchen, when we find a local partner making a great product and committed to the same standards we are, we happily will use their products to deliver great end-results to our guests. Whether a locally produced farmhouse cheese, a world-class bagel or rye bread, a local coffee roaster, or artisan meat smoker… we are proud to have these people on our team and to serve their products.
All things being equal, local is better. We believe that local is better for a variety of reasons -- freshness, traceability, and seasonality. But also we believe that local is better because it is environmentally more sound and sustainable, it strengthens are local economy, and is simply the right thing to do. That said, “local” is relative. There is the local bakery across the street or farm a vew miles from the restaurant. But local includes farmers and purveyors throughout Connecticut, New England, etc. We try and source fish from Boston, Connecticut and New York. Much of our produce comes from New Jersey up to Maine (with large amounts in season being Connecticut-grown). While Connecticut has wonderful cheeses, so does upstate New York, Vermont, etc. Our philosophy is stay local, closer is better, and when you can’t source locally, find a purveyor who shares our values and commitment to their “local”.
We have a responsibility to our guests, staff and community to serve “ethical food”. This means that sustainability is not simply a buzz word, but a reality we must wrestle with. Environmental impact, carbon footprints, recycling, fair trade, paying our workers fairly, etc… these are critical issues for us as a business and restaurant.
We want to serve simple, contemporary comfort food. Bold flavors, fresh ingredients, simple presentations. Eating out should be fun and satisfying, not pretentious and stuffy.
The emerging “slow food movement” is all about the opposite of fast food -- our food is locally sourced, often cooked the old-fashioned way -- slowly braised, roasted, slow-smoked, etc. We are a scratch kitchen --- we cook to order, prepare our foods and sauces in small batches, and generally cook like your grandmother used to. Does that sometimes mean our food takes a little longer? Yes, and we are totally okay with that. And does that sometimes mean that we run out of items? Yes, and we are totally okay with that too.
We have no interest in being a “health food” restaurant, but we want our food to wholesome, healthy and respectful of the choices our guests make. While there is no way to make a great pastrami sandwich that isn’t full of fat (that is what makes it taste great!), our pastrami needs to be made from high quality beef. We also want to give as much attention and commitment to quality to our guests who are vegetarians, have certain allergies or other special dietary needs.
The good news is that “local, farm-to-table and sustainable” food has now graduated from just being at a few restaurants or a marketing buzz word to a cultural shift in how consumers, chefs and restaurateurs think about food. However, too often, this movement has been seen almost exclusively in either expensive, fine dining restaurants or small niche mom-and-pop places (also often expensive). We want to deliver excellent, wholesome and responsible food that is also affordable and delivers on value.
Great cooking is really about two factors: start with great product and properly apply the right cooking method. We are obsessed about proper execution of our food and service. We make a priority out of training our staff, providing professional development, and working hard every day to get better at what we do. That is our promise and commitment to our guests and our partners.
Shannon Neron, Executive Chef