Since ending his four-year run as Executive Chef of Clifton Inn in December, Tucker Yoder has been busy with his new roving restaurant, Eljogaha, which has popped up at L’Etoile and Blenheim Vineyards, and will be at Grit this weekend. Yoder also recently stepped into the kitchen at The Whiskey Jar to provide his expertise. Though his stint was short by design, the impact should be lasting. “I tried to introduce some different techniques and uses for items they had,” said Yoder, “and worked with [owner] Will Richey and [chef] Devin [Murray] to create some new dinner menu items.”
As an example, Yoder cited a crispy egg salad with greens, schmaltz vinaigrette, pickled onion and chicken skin. A “crispy egg,” said Yoder, is one that has been soft-boiled, breaded with stone ground grits, and then deep fried. Pictured above, yes it tastes as good as it looks.
But, Richey says that many of the changes will not be apparent from the menu itself. Instead, the focus has been improving existing dishes. “When Devin and I began to think about these changes, we wanted the idea of ‘Grilled and Green’ to be the driving concept, getting us back to our goal of presenting Southern food that can be fresh and healthy,” said Richey. For example, “with some great guidance from Tucker, we revamped our salads to make them a key feature on the menu . . . and craveable.” Look also for a fresher take on side dishes, like marinated mushrooms, fresh sautéed vegetables, and sweet curry pickles.
Yoder’s kitchen consultation has been part of a broader effort over the last several months to “polish” the restaurant, as Richey puts it, and bring it back to the way he had originally conceived it. The changes are not dramatic, Richey said, but rather small tweaks here and there to restore the restaurant’s ambience, food, and service. “Overall, we will be the good ole Whiskey Jar,” said Richey.
Perhaps the biggest change is Richey’s reunion with former business partner Josh Zanoff, a Culinary Institute of America alum who Richey credits with teaching him how to cook years ago. The two once cooked together at L’Etoile, catered together, considered starting their own bistro, and joined forces at Revolutionary Soup, which Zanoff helped revamp when Richey bought it in 2005. They then went their separate ways, but Zanoff recently returned to the fold and now is running The Whiskey Jar.
The spring menus, below, launch today.