by Mabel Suen
Kim Bond and Ross Lessor have a special tradition of cooking up big spreads together for friends and guests. The hospitable couple often hosts parties featuring live music and an elaborate buffet of baked goods at their south-city home, so when the opportunity arose to set up shop in Dutchtown South just a few blocks away from Cherokee Street's main drag, they decided to give it a go. Gooseberries (2754 Chippewa Avenue; 314-577-6363) opened in mid-October and serves affordable home-style breakfast and lunch plates and snacks for everyone from vegans and vegetarians to meat-loving food enthusiasts.
"We just enjoy cooking together and feeding people," says Bond. "We've always wanted to be able to feed people on a larger scale, just to have a place where people can come and have some inexpensive but healthy and comforting food and be able to meet their neighbors."
The couple has cooked, collectively, for the past twenty years and met in the kitchen at the now-defunct Bobby's in Maplewood. Bond has held down the title of pastry chef at Frazer's Restaurant & Lounge for more than a decade, while Lessor's culinary resume includes a stint in Whole Foods' prepared-foods department.
Gooseberries' humble, homey space seats 35 and features brick walls adorned with colorfully drawn-upon chalkboards advertising the restaurant's specialties -- everything from savory hand pies and bacon legs served with from-scratch sauces to fried snack cakes and housemade breads. Plasticware sits on every table in repurposed Spam and coffee cans. Order at the counter from a neatly typed double-sided menu, and get fresh, hot food delivered to your table in single-serving paper boats.
"It's a place you can get a meal but also a snack or treat for later. If you've only got three or four bucks, you can come in and get something too," says Bond. "There's something for everybody. A lot of the recipes are things we make for each other -- he's a meat eater and I'm a vegetarian, so I'd make him bacon-wrapped chicken legs and he started making me 'tofish sticks' and 'krispy fried tofu' -- both vegan and gluten-free."
The menu begins with several options of biscuits and gravy ($4-$8) including sausage gravy, red-eye gravy and vegetarian garlic-milk gravy. Additional breakfast items available all day include housemade bagels, English muffins, biscuits or waffles ($1.50) and handpies of the day ($2). Cupcakes, cookies and muffins ($1-$2) are also available on a day-to-day basis.
Sandwiches all come served with a choice of sauce and side. Choose from options including a vegan beet reuben ($6), pulled pork ($6) and the "Chicken and the Egg" with roasted chicken, a hard-boiled egg, shoestring potatoes, mayo and Spanish olives. Get any sandwich served as a "bird's nest" atop crispy noodles with a fried egg for an additional $2. House specialties include tofu-noodle salad ($6), honey-garlic-lemon-pepper chicken wings ($6-$8) and barbecue tofu.
Gooseberries' current hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for dine-in or carryout. Limited delivery is available. Brunch is also available on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, follow Gooseberries on Facebook.
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