a whole black bass with greens and salsa verde photo by meera nagarajan

First Look: Elmwood in Maplewood

Elmwood, the highly anticipated restaurant from Niche Food Group alums Adam Altnether and Chris Kelling, will open Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 2704 Sutton Ave., in Maplewood.

Patrons won’t recognize the restaurant from its previous life as The Live Juke Joint dueling piano bar. Chef partner Altnether and managing partner Kelling designed the 3,450-square-foot space, gutting the interior themselves and working with local craftsman David Stine for custom tables and the bar. “This is what we do for fun,” Kelling said.

Industrial elements like a perforated black metal screen separating the bar and dining room are warmed by the elegant wood furniture, brightly colored art and an exposed brick wall. There are around 85 to 100 seats at a mix of booths, round tables, a 12-seat tall communal table and cleverly designed two-top banquet tables that can be transformed with hinged leaves for larger parties. Reservations are now available on Tock, but some seats will remain open for walk-ins.

The menu is focused on what Altnether called “big, bold flavors we love to eat” – everything from a massive rib-eye with Korean ssamjang sauce to a whole grilled black bass featuring a bright salsa verde.

“Modern American, to me, is these kinds of flavors. We’re not just steak and potatoes anymore,” Altnether said. “Nothing’s off-limits.”

Dishes range in size and global influence, but many will see time with charcoal as the kitchen centers on a unique, Spanish Josper oven – the only one of its model in the U.S.

The bar features high-proof, low-proof and zero-proof cocktails masterminded by bar director David Greteman. “The best part of working with Chris and Adam is there are no boundaries,” he said.

The menu will change frequently and feature unique ingredients like a persimmon leaf tincture. There are also six beers on tap, and Kelling assembled the California-focused wine list with help from sommelier and assistant general manager Juliette Dottle.

Elmwood will be open Tuesday to Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. Here’s a first look at what to expect from Maplewood’s newest eatery.

Heather Hughes is managing editor for Sauce Magazine.