As early as next week, chef and restaurant owner Demetrios Atheneos will unveil his latest project, Forage Public House (14600 Detroit Ave., 216-226-2000), which will take the place of Pacers in Lakewood. That popular tavern has been in operation for about 25 years.
Atheneos, the opening chef at Deagan’s and current chef-owner of the Oak Barrel Brasserie and Taphouse in Valley View (5975 Canal Rd., 216-520-3640, theoakbarrel.com), says that he’s been working on this concept for some time, but only now found the right location for it. The large restaurant space can accommodate 200 inside and another 100 outside on the neighborhood’s largest open-air patio. Come spring, a major remodel, including new bathrooms and dedicated restaurant entrance, will dramatically change the space.
Billed as a New American public house, Forage will feature a menu built entirely of local products or sustainably produced non-local products when a local alternative doesn’t exist. Atheneos will work with Chef’s Garden, Green City Growers, Green Field Farms and Hiland Country Store to ensure that all of his foodstuffs are naturally, humanely raised. Meats will include non-GMO fed, pasture-raised beef, heritage-breed hogs, free-range chickens and eggs, rabbit and spring lamb. Already, Forage is a Greener Fields Together certified eatery.
The menu gives equal real estate to meat, fish and vegetable dishes. Possible items might include an in-house-ground Ohio Certified Angus Beef burger; poutine topped with Lake Erie Creamery cheese curds and housemade mixed-bone gravy; Ohio-raised rabbit with Killbuck Valley mushrooms and Chef’s Garden edible flowers; Ohio bison short ribs with white hominy; Killbuck mushroom bread pudding made with Blackbird Bakery bread; wild Ohio perch with winter squash; and a wide range of housemade charcuterie.
“We’ve got a great kitchen for doing whole animal butchery,” says the chef. “We’ve always done the confits and pates and fresh sausages, but never had the room to really get into the dry-curing stuff. Now we will.”
While many diners have grown fond of certain trademark dishes of the chef’s – think fish and chips, duck confit mac and cheese, chicken and waffles – don’t expect to see them at Forage.
“Everything at Forage will be completely new and different from what I’ve done at Deagan’s and Oak Barrel,” Atheneos says. “We’ll keep the stars of the menu, but the preparation will be new almost weekly. That’s the whole concept: not having the same items on the menu for years. It will be always evolving, always changing.”
Lee Robinson, a longtime kitchen colleague of Atheneos, will be the chef de cuisine at Forage.