Jeremy Kean, cofounder and chef for the pop-up team Whisk, sees himself as a culinary jazz musician. At first, he wanted to show his audience everything he could do. Now, five years since the Newton native started serving modernist tasting menus with partner Philip Kruta, he says he has matured.
“When we started, our food was young,” Kean says, calling from his Jamaica Plain apartment, where he cares for his infant son. “We would work 20-hour days to make these intricate plates with 10 garnishes that were almost weird to eat.”
Kean and Kruta’s ensemble is now playing a different tune: Brassica Kitchen + Cafe, the chefs’ interpretation of a casual supper club, opens in May in the Fazenda
cafe space, but diners can taste what’s coming next to Forest Hills earlier than the spring. On Sunday nights, the two test out cocktails and snacks at their weekly speakeasy, Forest Hills Social Club, and they’ll introduce a full-blown menu as a pop-up March 18 and 19.
Whisk’s menu-less shtick is no more; instead, guests can order small plates individually or on tasting menus. In the mornings, baristas will pour coffee and espresso, and various sandwiches will bridge the gap between breakfast and dinner. The chefs will talk to New England purveyors and farmers about what’s fresh and flavorful before designing menus. Even the chairs will be new: Kruta has been transforming the former Fazenda cafe (which still serves sandwiches and coffee) into this restaurant, building every piece of furniture for the space. He doesn’t see himself as a musician — he’s a craftsman.
“It’s the homegrown feel we want it to give,” Kruta says in a phone interview. He is building the chef’s pass in his woodshop. “Once everything is built, I’m going to return as the chef cooking my own food. Everything, including the furniture, was created by us.”
The two have yet to design the menu for March 18, but they know one thing: You won’t spot fussy plating or edible sculptures.
“We don’t have to make cucumber juice into glass anymore,” Kean says. “We just want to see people who come in for coffee in the morning coming back for dinner.”
Kruta shares this view: “It’s really the neighborhood spot we want to create now. It’s not really global recognition you need to fill a restaurant, it’s just a good neighborhood.”
Kruta and Kean may play different roles, but after five years of cooking side by side, they agree on what — and whom — they want to serve.
Whisk at Fazenda, 3710 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, 617-756-7571. Reservations for the pop-up March 18 and 19 can be made via OpenTable; search for Brassica Kitchen.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.