It was with fear and trepidation that I followed the recent articles on the new restaurant, The West Side Local. Not because I don't like the idea of a beer-centric restaurant that makes it's own kraut and pickles, I love the idea. Rather, I was fearful because my favorite chef, Rick Martin, was the Executive Chef and that must mean he has left Free State, the greatest brewery ever, and that made me sad. But none of the articles I read definitively stated he had left, so I held out hope that maybe he would be working at both places, maybe. Then I saw this,
"I just want to make comfort food -- food that makes people feel welcome," said Executive Chef Rick Martin, who left Free State Brewery after 17 years for the chance to run his own kitchen.
If you don't know Rick Martin, he is one of the better food & beer chefs in the country. He's talked or presented at some of the biggest beer events, including Savor, the Great American Beer Festival, and the Craft Brewers Conference, his recipes are featured in Lucy Saunders' book about beer and food, and he was recently awarded Mentor of the Year by the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association.
He will surely be missed by myself and many of us in Lawrence who look forward to his daily specials and especially the Annual Beer Banquet where he comes up with amazing dishes. My wife and I have been to about five banquets now and it was beer that originally attracted us, but it's the food that keeps us coming back year after year.