side project brewing's new food concept photo by meera nagarajan

First Look: Side Project Brewing’s new food concept in Maplewood

Over the years, Side Project (The Brewery, The Cellar and The Patio) owner Cory King has wanted to bring food to Side Project Brewing, so he recently partnered with Adam Altnether (formerly of Pizza Champ) to launch a menu at the brewery at 7458 Manchester Road.

“[King] wants to keep expanding his clientele, and his kids are getting older, and when he goes out it’s centered around family, and he wanted to explore ways to bring families into the brewery,” Altnether said. 

In its 10 years in business, Side Project has never offered a food menu. “Side Project has been thought of as insider beer, like you have to be a beer nerd to go here and we’re always going to make the beers that people freak out over and what is next? Adding food, for now,” Altnether said.

Altnether, who has worked at several notable restaurants within Niche Food Group and at the now-shuttered Elmwood, has a background in fine dining. “Once a chef leaves a fine dining sphere, they always want to figure out a way to do approachable things, but the execution will be there and I think that’s what will help our food shine here. People are going to be surprised at the food. It’s not fancy but, it’s properly dressed, crispy when it’s supposed to be,” Altnether said. 

You’ll see what he’s talking about as you notice the fine touches in familiar favorites like the salsa verde on the slow-roasted (cured, smoked and slow roasted for 10 to 14 hours, to be exact) pork shoulder sandwich; or the ranch aioli on the Side Project spicy chicken sandwich; or the lemon aioli alongside a snowdrift of freshly shaved Parmesan cheese served atop french fries. The fried green tomato BLT with thick and crisp rounds of green tomato, thick-cut bacon, arugula and smoked paprika remoulade will shift in tomato season to a more traditional BLT featuring the season’s bounty. The do-not-miss item is the Side Project burger, two 4-ounce patties, two slices of American cheese, caramelized onions and an apple cider-Dijon aioli.

Also bringing her fine-dining experience is Heather Dorman, who worked with Altnether at Elmwood. “She was on the original Elmwood team and was there from day one and she was our grill person and that’s the hardest station there, how to run and maintain live fire – that’s a lot. And she was good at that, she’s unreal,” Altnether said.

Look for the team to bring Side Project beers into dishes whenever they can whether they’re using it as part of a marinade for meats or working to incorporate it into a dessert like a stout caramel for something sweet. “A lot of people are coming here to drink beer and get a snack instead of a full meal,” Altnether said. “We’re getting a lot of people that come for a dessert beer after a dinner and come here for a small pour of stout like a night cap so we want to have a couple of sweet bites we can offer.”

Side Project Brewing is open Monday from 4 to 8 p.m., Wednesday through Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 1 to 8 p.m.