cauliflower steak at 50/fifty kitchen photo by michelle volansky

First Look: 50/Fifty Kitchen in Northampton

After a sporadic few weeks, doors are open for regular service at 50/Fifty Kitchen at 3723 Kingshighway Blvd., in Northampton.

Owner Bob Madden spent decades in the restaurant industry at area staples like Fleming’s, Busch’s Grove and Truffles before striking out on his own. He wanted to open a restaurant that catered equally to vegetarians and meat-eaters after switching to a vegetarian diet a few years ago. The restaurant’s moniker reflects that division – half the menu items features meat and seafood while the other half is vegetarian or vegan.

Madden partnered with former Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Café executive chef Dana Holland to develop the menu. Holland continues to serve as consulting executive chef at 50/Fifty, while chef Vince Anderson takes care of day-to-day operations and manages the kitchen. The menu features a wide selection of small plates for snacking and sharing, such as smoked lentil tacos, jackfruit-stuffed eggplant involtini and spicy sausage flatbread. Larger dishes include a cauliflower steak, sunflower seed risotto and a New York strip.

The space, which once housed Larocca’s, sat vacant for years before Madden and his team signed the least earlier this year. The dining room seats 100 and can be divided by a large rolling barn door. 50/Fifty Kitchen also serves as a live music venue with an intimate performance space set up in the far dining room. A 30-seat enclosed patio offers a quiet oasis from the busy traffic on Kingshighway. Madden and events coordinator Timmy Pearse aim to make the restaurant readily available for private events.

Beverage manager Sara Goodall’s bar program relies heavily on local spirits like 1220 Artisan Spirits Origin gin and Still630 whiskey. Bottled and canned local beer options include 4 Hands Brewing Co. and nonalcoholic Wellbeing Brewing Co. The entire international wine list is available by bottle or glass.

50/Fifty Kitchen is open from 3:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Madden hopes to open for Saturday service in 2019; the space is currently booked for private events most weekends through the end of the year.

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine.