We have a soft spot for homespun comfort food, even as trends and warmer weather push us toward more eclectic and less guilty fare. Thankfully, Karen Gorman and her Bainbridge-area microtavern Crumb and Spigot manages to navigate both worlds.
Her cooking style aims to strike what she calls "comfort food notes," building complexity with simple ingredients through intentional layering. In her version of chicken and biscuits, for example, she thickens house-made chicken stock slightly with onion, flour and cream, waiting until the end to fold in roasted chicken, fresh celery, carrots and peas. Thus, the sauce has plenty of time to develop flavor while the vegetables remain al dente and bright.
"It's giving the customer something that is lighter and more modern and isn't going to make you want to go home and go to bed," she says.
Seating just 50 between the dining room and bar, the restaurant's strip mall facade disguises its warm, intimate interior.
Pull up a bar stool to sip one of co-owner Ryan King's creative cocktails before dinner. With a cocktail list nearly as long as the food menu, King emphasizes scratch cooking in his drinks as much as Gorman's cuisine does. For instance, the orange radler ($12), one of eight beer cocktails on the list, is made with an India pale ale, Aperol and house-made orange soda.
Pretty much everything — from Gorman's dozen or so pizza options (try the $13 Vegan with harissa, eggplant and herb salad) to the chicken cassoulet ($19) to the meatball appetizer ($10) — is finished in the brick oven for a hint of smoke.
"The kitchen is so tiny," says Gorman. "I wanted to have everything come out of a wood-fired oven." 16783 Chillicothe Road, Bainbridge, 440-384-3035, crumbandspigot.com
Try This ‡¨ If you plan to cozy up for a few drinks (and we couldn't blame you for that), order the beer board ($13). It's like bar snacks on steroids, complete with a warm, chewy pretzel and cheese dip, house-made spicy beef jerky, seasoned bar nuts and even a pickled egg.