Once upon a time, Kimberley Ashlee was a ravenous artist making an attempt to make a reputation for herself as a journalist.
Via a collection of serendipitous occasions, the enterprising Canadian discovered herself working in a high-end Toronto resort’s catering division — and loving it. She designed menus by day and penned articles at night time.
“There have been lots of issues occurring in my life, and cooking and being within the kitchen made me really feel good,” she says.
Now, after years of freelancing and operating Kimberley Ashlee Catering and the fast-casual idea Terrene at Station Sq., the veteran chef tells tales by way of meals at Christian James, a brand new restaurant contained in the Joinery Lodge, Downtown.
Ashlee and her husband Joshua Haugh, a sommelier whose different experience is in hotel-restaurant administration, formally opened the enterprise Jan. 25. The seasonally evolving menu tells the story of Christian James, a fictional foodie who travels the world making an attempt totally different cuisines. Every dish is a chapter in his journey.
“I like to journey and check out new issues,” says Ashlee, who moved to Pittsburgh seven years in the past. “This character will evolve as he experiences journeys and dishes we’ve had through the years.”
The eatery serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails and handles all meals and beverage operations contained in the resort, a Gothic-revival-style constructing at 453 Boulevard of the Allies. Christian James is nestled inside the previous Salvation Military of Western Pennsylvania auditorium (and extra not too long ago the previous Distrikt Lodge and or, The Whale restaurant).
Upon getting into the house, friends will see a coat rack the place Christian James, who’s form of like a hungry Indiana Jones, hangs his coat and hat. Pictures from Ashlee’s journeys overseas line the partitions, together with an unlimited map of the world manufactured from moss that the complete workers assembled earlier than the grand opening.
I began my very own culinary quest with a cocktail. The Midnight Fog is a mixture of scotch, bourbon, spiced cola syrup, lemon juice, Angostura bitters and a rosemary-infused smoke bubble. There’s additionally an in depth beer choice. Haugh acts as a tour information by way of the restaurant’s boutique wine choice.
My order of Shishito peppers with seasoned salt and beer cheese offered a pleasant little kick within the tastebuds. If you happen to’re not a pepper fan, strive the Montreal-style poutine. Canadians do that cheese-curd-and-Guinness-gravy-comfort meals proper.
For my entree, I took a cue from the globetrotting adventurer and tried one thing new to me. The goat vindaloo, marinated and braised in a curry sauce with delicate spices on a mattress of jasmine rice, is one thing I’d undoubtedly revisit.
As a result of Christian James is situated within a resort, it has to enchantment to all types of road-weary vacationers. From steak and fish to a cheeseburger and fries, there’s one thing for everybody, together with youngsters.
Ashlee and Haugh have a younger daughter, so creating a child’s menu was an enormous precedence. The menu contains wood-fired pizza, hen fried rice, white cheddar mac and cheese and different upscaled favorites. Tykes 10 and underneath eat at no cost and obtain a heat cookie that they will embellish on the desk. The candy distraction offers mother and father just a little extra time to chill out with a dessert — strive the house-made donuts — or a boozy beverage.
A brand new menu launches on April 7 — Good Friday — and Ashlee says she’s excited to work with native purveyors and experiment with a bounty of contemporary, spring substances.
“Opening within the Joinery has actually taken us full circle,” Ashlee says. “We’ve each labored at a resort earlier than. It’s serendipity.”
Bottomline: Christian James is price writing residence about.