Chances are, you’ve already been to Registry Bistro. In the five years it’s been open (June 12 was their five-year anniversary), it’s become one of the hottest spots in the city for upscale dining. If you haven’t been to Registry Bistro, don’t feel like you need to dress to impress— the restaurant has positioned itself to be a dinner/drinks stop for all manner of activity in downtown Toledo, be it opera, baseball games or the occasional monster truck rally. As Chef/Co-owner Erika Rapp says, “I love having a mixed demographic. Dress for your occasion. We have people come in hockey jerseys, we have people come in who are going to prom. That mixture of people and style adds to the overall feel of the restaurant.” Basically, everyone is welcome to the experience. On the ground floor of the historic Secor Building, a hub for art spaces, Registry Bistro’s setting is an understated atmosphere of modernity. “When we came here, there was nothing. There was a lightbulb. All the windows were blocked up,” said Rapp, reminiscing. “We were like, ‘Oh my god, this is perfect!’ It was exactly what we wanted— we wanted the windows, we wanted the doors that open onto the street, we wanted that high ceiling to make you feel a little bit smaller. It has that hard and soft together. It gave us an opportunity to do something modern, but still have the rusticity that I like.”
An ever-changing menu
Of course, the atmosphere won’t matter if the food game isn’t on point. And Registry Bistro wins in the food department also, offering inventive selections including Pickled Gulf Shrimp with Tasso Ham and Braised Greens; Smoked Jackfruit with Pan-Roasted Lobster; and Forever Braised Wild Boar Ragu with Hand Cut Pappardelle. “We change out the menu seasonally. Rapp explains. “I like playing with a lot of game and seafood. Whatever is in season at the moment.” And yet, Registry Bistro almost didn’t happen— at least, not the Registry Bistro we know and love. “My mom, (co-owner) Vickie, and I had been throwing around the idea of opening a restaurant,” said Rapp. “And at one point, we were going to open up a farm and have goats and make cheese. It was a terrible idea. . . .I like hearty, soulful food that feels comforting in a way, but still current,” says Rapp.
This dining hub is more than a restaurant. “In addition to the restaurant itself, we also have private dining rooms and a ballroom. We cater large-scale events— we just had a wedding here. That’s the other leg of our three-legged stool.” With a large, beautiful space that can be arranged to fit any event, the ballroom can host just about anything meaningful to you. “I love catering for people’s special occasions,” Rapp said. “It gives me an opportunity to become part of what they are doing.” Additionally, the ballroom has become home to the Toledo Jazz Orchestra’s Black and White Series, where guests can enjoy jazz combos along with their meal on select dates. “This is an old hotel, and in a hotel, you’d actually go back and sign a registry,” Rapp says, explaining the restaurant’s name, as she gives a tour of the building that includes the River House Arts Gallery. It’s an interesting space, and on the upper floors of the building, many of the artists have mounted a piece of their art outside their studio door, giving you an idea of what is going on inside.
“Toledo’s definitely my home, my family’s here,” the chef, who was born here, explains of her decision to open up shop in T-Town. And though she doesn’t rule anything out (including opening up another restaurant) it sounds like she’s staying put with Registry Bistro and Toledo for the long haul. “I’m happy with the life I’ve got and what I’m doing here. It’s exceeded my expectations and there’s still more for me to do.”
5-pm, Tuesday-Saturday (bar opens at 4pm) 144 N. Superior St. | 419-725-0444 registrybistro.com
Bourbon Brined Pork Tenderloin with grilled Apples and Brussel Sprouts
2 pork Tenderloin 1 onion, thinly sliced 6 smashed garlic cloves 2 bay Leaves 6 twigs thyme 10 black peppercorns 5 allspice berries 1 strip orange peel 2 cloves 3 T dark brown sugar 2 T black strap molasses 5 T kosher salt 1 cup water 1/4 cup bourbon 2 cups ice
Grilled Apple and Brussel Sprout Ingredients
1 tart apple (Honey Crisp, Granny Smith or favorite). Cut into 16 Pcs with skin on 1 yellow onion, cut in 1/4 with root left attached 2 heaping cups of brussel sprouts, cleaned and cut in half 1/4 cup melted butter Salt and pepper
· Make the brine: in saucepan, combine all ingredients except ice. Bring to simmer for 30 minutes (it should be intensely flavorful). · Pull off stove and pour over ice to cool. · Once the brine has cooled to room temperature, put in non-reactive pan and add pork. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours, turning once or twice to ensure even brining. · Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to high. If using a gas grill, place the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat until you see smoke. Put perforated grill pan on direct heat. · Toss onions and brussel sprouts together in Bowl. Mix apples with butter separately. Season everything with salt and pepper. · When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. · Drain the pork and blot dry with paper towels, dusting off any loose spices. Brush the pork on both sides with the remaining oil. DO NOT ADD ADITIONAL SALT · Arrange in the center of the hot grate away from the heat. Add Brussel Sprout Mixture to grill pan and mix occasionally grill for 15 minutes · If using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips on the coals. Cover the grill and smoke the pork for 10 minutes. continue cooking Brussel Sprout Mixture add apples and stirring occasionally until the apples brown the outside but still slightly crisp and brussel cooked through and charred and onions are caramelized · Then move the pork directly over the heat: If using a charcoal grill, place each tenderloin on each side over the mounds of coals. move sprouts to indirect hea · If using a gas grill, place both over the lit portion of the grill. Grill the tenderloin, uncovered, until cooked through (about 155°on an thermometer), 4 to 7 minutes per side, rotating the pork 90 degrees after two minutes to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks. Transfer the tenderloin to plates or a platter and let rest for 5 minutes, then slice serve at once on top brussel sprouts and sprinkle a few a over pork as well.