When Chef Rob Connoley announced his dream restaurant concept which would feature a fully foraged ingrediants roster, 100% sustainable practices and a zero-waste kitchen, folks didn’t ask “How?”– they asked “How soon?!”
With a buzz of anticipation that spread to publications across the globe, foodies were not only excited about Connoley’s new concept – they were ready for it. Maybe it was their trust in Connoley–who is a James beard-nominated chef and a leader in the STL food scene–their love for Squatters, Connoley’s “test kitchen” where he previewed the concept for a year in Grand Center Arts District; or, their desire to have a new, memorable dining experience that they could feel good about. Either way, a trip to Bulrush will take your tastebuds on a tour of real Missouri-inpired fare–namely, Ozark-inspired cuisine that’s crafted with freshly foraged ingrediants from over 10,000-acres of Missouri land.
Can you tell me a bit how Squatters, which was located inside the cafe at KDHX for about a year, laid the foundation and led to your ultimate goal of opening up a fully foraged restaurant concept?
RC: Squatters Café was always intended to bridge the gap until we opened Bulrush. We knew that we didn’t want to confuse our guests by doing a similar restaurant concept, but we needed to stay sharp, practice ideas and test the market of how Grand Center Arts District might support out style of food.
“Foraging” is a new concept for a lot of people–even avid foodies. Can you tell us how this works and what that means for your menu?
RC: Foraging simply means going out into the woods and gathering natural ingredients to cook for our guests. Our staff goes out a few times a week looking for a variety of ingredients to supplement our produce and meats bought from local farmers. Foraging ultimately is just a tool in our toolbag. Insisting on local ingredients is really what drives our menu. To that end we forage, purchase from local farmers and local producers.
What can people expect from a dining experience at Bulrush?
RC: Up front in the bar you’ll find very familiar foods that are incredibly flavorful, perfectly prepared and value driven. In the main dining room, we’re expecting folks who will let us play a bit more. In our Ozark Dining Experience, guests get seven courses of dishes that derive from our research into the Ozarks between 1820 and 1870, but presented in a style more consistent with 2019.
Has there been a dish that has been a “favorite” so far?
RC: The Venison dish at the bar has been the breakout favorite–grilled venison skewer over sweet and sour Missouri jasmine rice with seasonal vegetables and an Asian inspired BBQ sauce.
What ingredients/flavors can diners expect on the menu this summer?
RC: Expect mushrooms! This is going to be an amazing year for wild mushrooms and we’re going to gather as many as we can find.
If there’s one thing about Bulrush that you want people to brag about or tell their friends about–what would that be?
RC: No one has ever done historic Ozark cuisine. We’ve been proud of taking on the flag of championing this historic cuisine and elevating to something truly special to the outsider.
Bulrush is open Thursday through Sunday and offers first-come, first-served walk-in seating or reserved, Ozark Tasting Experience seating that can be reserved through their website. The Ozark Tasting Experience is a pay-in-advance, seven-course menu that changes daily.