Next week, Oakland Park-based Funky Buddha Brewery will open its own in-house kitchen when it debuts Craft Food Counter & Kitchen on Wednesday, November 11.
The fast-casual kitchen is located in the production brewery's taproom, says Funky Buddha brand director John Linn, and will feature a menu of from-scratch pub fare with a crafty focus. Also slated to open in conjunction with the kitchen is Funky Buddha’s new private events suite, a full-service catering and events facility located on-premise, designed to accommodate groups of all sizes for a variety of functions — everything from beer education and training courses, to dinners and private events.
Food and craft beer are not a new combination. Brewpubs like Big Bear in Coral Springs and Brewzzi in Boca Raton have long served a full menu in addition to brewing beer. Organic Brewing in Hollywood was a similar spot before becoming Hollywood Brewing, with a large, high tech production brewery nearby. Now, the original location serves as a kind of full service taproom to the brewery, with a full kitchen and broad menu.
Still, craft beer lovers who frequent production taprooms like Due South, LauderAle, and Funky Buddha know that the eats generally come from food trucks. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
"The opening of Craft Food Counter is a dramatic next step in the evolution of the brewery," says KC Sentz, Funky Buddha's co-owner and general manager. "With the quality of food coming out of our kitchen, and the unbelievable events area we've built, we're moving to create a worldclass brewery experience right here in South Florida."
To build Craft Food Counter, Funky Buddha has completely renovated the bocce area located behind its taproom. The open kitchen has been built into a refurbished shipping container, and framed by an illuminated sheetmetal display with 10-foot-high windows that open into the heart of the brewery. A 20-foot polished concrete countertop serves as the point of sale, a way to ensure the Funky Buddha taproom remains a casual, communal, and open seating atmosphere.
The main banquet hall, viewable from inside the Craft Food Counter & Kitchen area thanks to two panoramic glass garage doors, is a rustic space featuring reclaimed wood rafters, red-brick walls, antique metal accents, and barrel staves used in the creation of Funky Buddha’s own beers. A full catering menu offer a variety of options for parties of all sizes.
Craft Food Counter & Kitchen will be helmed by executive chef Jeff Vincent, a South Carolina native and veteran head chef who most recently worked with Beauty & the Feast, the main restaurant located inside the Atlantic Hotel & Spa in Fort Lauderdale. His eclectic style draws on his low country roots and European training, imparting a refined Southern twang to Craft Food Counter’s menu. Philip Colp, who recently spent 11 years overseeing the catering program at Davie’s Signature Grand, will operate the new events facility as Funky Buddha's director of catering.
At the brewery, you can start your happy hour off with sharable dishes from the "Splitters" section, everything from a Tap Room Pretzel made with spent grain from the brewhouse and served with spicy, wholegrain Doc Brown Ale mustard, to beer-friendly Funky Wings, chicken wings doused in Vincent's own Carolina mustard barbecue sauce. There are also Blistered Shishito Peppers, here served with smoked peanuts and sea salt .
Larger dishes will showcase the kitchen's commitment to fresh ingredients and made-to-order dishes. The Local Burrata salad, for example, is served with parmesan toast points and seasonal, locally-sourced tomatoes. Housemade bratwurst is first braised in the Funky Buddha's own Hop Gun IPA, then grilled and served with a brewhouse cabbage kraut and sauteed onions. And hand-dipped Southern Fried Chicken comes hoisted on a "big ass" beer cheddar biscuit and smothered in a homemade sawmill gravy.
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No menu would be complete without a juicy burger, says Linn, and the Craft Counter & Kitchen plans on upping the ante with its Mighty Tatanka, a droolworthy blend of bison and pork belly doused in olive oil, melted tomatoes, sweet onion schmear, and smoked buffalo mozzarella, served on a locally-baked challah bun.
For dessert, Vincent delivers his own take on the grilled cheese with the Griddled Cheese, made with buttered beer challah loaded with a blend of sheep's milk cheese and gouda, and served with a side of raspberry chili pepper jam for dipping. Daily specials will take inspiration from local and seasonal ingredients, and will change regularly.
Craft Food Counter & Kitchen will be open daily inside Funky Buddha Brewery from noon to midnight.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.