APPLETON—A farmhouse with a stone hearth and fireplace, a giant pond, and three acres in the countryside is the newest hotspot in Appleton.
Chef and owner of Camden’s popular breakfast and lunch spot Boynton-McKay, Brian Beggarly has teamed up with chef Andrew Bridge, formerly of Thomaston’s Station 118, to open Appleton’s only bar and restaurant, Fōda, which is an old English word for “food.”
Beggarly said opening another restaurant has been part of his 10-year plan.
“All of the chefs I’ve ever worked for have had multiple food service outlets and that’s how I was brought up in the industry,” he said.
Bridge, who has worked as a chef for the past 30 years, was born in Port Clyde and spent the majority of his career in Boston working in fine-dining restaurants.
“I’ve known Brian for years and worked for him at Boynton- McKay,” said Bridge of their connection. “We just started talking about turning Boynton into a dinner place or opening something new.”
They’d both had their eye on the farmhouse, formerly The Briar Patch, and jumped on the opportunity when the listing came up for sale. Inside the rustic building there is a cozy dining room with seating for 38 people; its focal point is a stone fireplace dominating the far wall.
They are not worried about the location being perceived to be too far away; instead, they see it as a plus, as it is just 10 minutes away down the road from Route 17 in Union.
“During the pandemic, driving to restaurants became part of the overall experience,” said Beggarly. “I think people have stuck with that. The world I’ve always wanted to be in is the Michelin world, the high-end dining scene. The way that started is Michelin, the company that makes tires, is based on the number of stars for a quality restaurant–so a Michelin three-star restaurant is worth the drive just to go eat dinner.”
With the idea of cultivating the farmland in the future, the main objective for both chefs is to get customers into the dining room and feel out what will be the most popular on the menu.
“Both of us come from the pedigree of hyper-refined food and for me, being back in Maine on this beautiful property and being able to utilize all of these local farms for ingredients is that it is the place to be,” said Bridge.
“Buying the ingredients locally, using the techniques we’ve learned from other great chefs in our careers, but in a much more relaxed manner – that’s what we’re going for,” said Beggarly.
“If we were to give it a tagline it would be ‘highly approachable; extremely refined,” said Bridge.
The menu, which will change nightly, is based on locally sourced ingredients. It encompasses both a vegetarian/vegan ethos well as elevated comfort food that Mainers have shown a preference for, such as stuffed delicata squash, wood-roasted duck, and a cast-iron seared ribeye. And on the small plates menu – a lobster corndog.
“We skewered a lobster tail in corndog batter,” said Beggarly. “It was just an instant hit.”
“After working with Melissa Kelly, of Primo, I got much more into the mindset of what’s coming out of the ground and how to showcase that farmer’s hard work,” said Beggarly. “With the vegetarian dishes, the idea is to not make it a side note, but with whatever is coming out of the field, make something phenomenal with it.”
“Adding to that, our aim is about approaching food with distinction,” said Bridge.
Both chefs are also striving to build a level of trust with customers so that they broaden their palates and choose a dish they might not have ever considered before.
“I love the idea of the Japanese style of ‘Omakase,’ which loosely translated means, ‘I’m in your hands,’” said Beggarly. “I love sitting down and not having to make the choice, letting the kitchen pick what I’m going to try for that night.”
For more information visit Fōda on Instagram. The restaurant is at 48 Peabody Road, Appleton.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org