The website for Tasting Counter, ex-Aujourd’hui chef Peter Ungar’s forthcoming low carbon footprint locavore restaurant within the newly opened Aeronaut Brewing space, proclaims the philosophy driving the project is “to establish the shortest distance between the production of food and the dining guest.”
And like all new projects getting off the ground in Boston, the process of bringing it from idea bench to market faces a lot of regulatory red tape, and city-based headaches.
“We’re still having issues with space we’re trying to figure out, and it’s delaying getting a firmly set opening date because it’s going in an old factory building,” says Ungar. “And with a full-service restaurant going in, there are a lot of electrical needs and small pieces we’re figuring out before being able to open the doors to the public.”
Ungar says he and his team were originally looking at December for the opening date, but given the concerns and process involved with setting up shop in such an old structure, he’s realistically pushed it back to the early moons of 2015.
“We’re funded and ready to go, and everyone on the team is ready from design, general contractors, architects, etc.,” he says. “In the next couple weeks we should be able to start putting [everything] out there, and I feel pretty good about the fact we haven’t had to deviate far from the original concept in order to do that.”
For a refresher: Tasting Counter will be 20 seats wrapping around three sides of the kitchen, with a tiny back of house area and everything else stored out in the dining room (see: dry goods, perishables, etc.). The goal is to bring the guest as close as possible to the origin of the food being produced, cooked, and plated. In short, the whole space is basically one big “chef’s table.”
“It’s one team doing all the functions of a restaurant,” says Ungar. “No front or back of the house. All the cooks doing the plating and serving and clearing, with one or two people going around the edge of the counter for service, so the whole time diners can see your own dish coming together right in front of you.”
Additionally, there will be a mini market component allowing patrons to purchase the produce and materials used in-house, and since the guests are placed at the center of the action while they dine, the function of seeing how things are coming together and processed for your dish can basically translate to recreation at home (or attempts at it).
“What’s great about this space is it’s basically a blank slate,” says Ungar. “So we’ve had the opportunity to hone in on the original concept to make it work. It’s taken a little longer than expected, but it’ll be worth it once we start accomplishing what we originally set out to do.”
Dan is a freelance journalist and has written for publications including Vice, Esquire, the Daily Beast, Fast Company, Pacific Standard, MEL, Leafly, Thrillist, and DigBoston.