Creative Thinking Is Key at
Revival Kitchen & Bar
By Ami B. Cadugan / Fiddlehead Contributing Writer
When walking around Concord’s architecturally rich downtown, seek out Revival Kitchen & Bar tucked away on the alley-like Depot Street. Chef Corey Fletcher is the award-winning owner and executive chef at Revival, Concord’s premier farm-to-table restaurant.
“We’re called Revival Kitchen because we bring a new-age twist to traditional dishes,” he said. “Our menu caters to those who want to know where their food is coming from and support local farmers. And New Hampshire has plenty of options for locally sourced food.”
Even though he’s running his own place now, Fletcher is no novice to the Concord restaurant scene. Bitten by the bug at an early age, Fletcher grew up cooking with his family and working in restaurants after school. Then it was off to culinary school at Southern New Hampshire University, followed by jobs as the executive chef at both The Colby Hill Inn in Henniker and The Granite Restaurant and Bar (Centennial Hotel) in Concord.
By January of 2017, Fletcher felt the time was right to strike out on his own.
“I wanted to be the first one to do this concept and not have to compete with anyone else,” he said. “I was also at a point in my career where opening my own restaurant was the next logical step.”
In the beginning, Fletcher had 15-20 purveyors for local products, many with whom he had previously worked. He also went to farmers’ markets and chatted with his fellow chefs for inspiration. But the situation quickly reversed.
“Now, producers and farmers reach out to me,” he said. “I just received a maple syrup sample from a farm in Hopkinton. The liquid soap we use in our bathrooms is made right here in Concord, by Cap City Soap. It’s really unbelievable.”
But being both the chef and owner comes with its share of challenges.
“Within a 24-hour period I could be a plumber, electrician, dishwasher, bookkeeper or cleaner,” he said. “But the majority of my job is cooking. No two days are the same ... That’s part of the appeal of cooking. You never know what challenges you’ll run into here. Then you’re forced into problem-solving mode. Creative thinking is key to get you out of it.”
Fortunately, Fletcher has a seasoned staff to back him up, including a few servers who have been with him for almost 13 years.
“I’m glad they followed me on this journey – they took a huge leap of faith by joining me at my new restaurant,” he said. “After all, their livelihoods were at stake. They understand my philosophy and how to share that and engage our customers. I couldn’t do this without them.”
Sometimes Fletcher sends out bite-sized samples and asks his customers for feedback.
“Based on the rapport they’ve developed with our staff over time, it’s easy to have those conversations. People come back because they like us and it’s important to nurture those relationships.”
Last St. Patrick’s Day, Fletcher had a customer express his love of corned beef. Coincidentally, Reuben sandwiches were on the menu for the next staff meal, so an invitation to join them was extended.
“He enjoyed the entire experience, which deepened his connection to Revival,” he said. “It’s these special touches that make our customers loyal.”
Creativity is the key to producing memorable meals at Revival.
“My goal is to be like Chef Dan Barber, owner of Blue Hill Restaurant (New York City) and Blue Hill at Stone Barns,” he said. Barber’s farm-to-table philosophy has raised awareness of the symbiotic relationship between farming and fine dining. “Taking something from a raw state and creating a dish that tastes great, looks amazing and brings pleasure to our customers…that’s the ultimate test of creativity for me.”
Dishes like Robie Farm Cocoa-Chili-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin highlight Fletcher’s craftsmanship. It’s a juicy, Fred-Flintstone-sized pork loin, surrounded by summer squash, corn, green beans, yellow eye beans and sweet peppers. Bright green chimichurri sauce is drizzled over the plate, adding a zesty garnish. One whiff of the slightly sweet, vanilla scent will have your mouth watering as soon as the plate hits the table.
Other favorites include Butternut Squash Arancini (Italian rice balls).
“Last fall, we made them with spaghetti squash and a vegetarian bolognaise sauce, as a play on spaghetti and meatballs,” Fletcher recalled. “To this day, customers are asking for it. So, we’ll bring that back.”
Geoffrey Soriano is the sous chef and the mastermind behind Revival’s desserts.
“Our menu features larger dessert items (dark chocolate terrine) as well as some smaller bites (s’mores eggrolls and macarons),” Fletcher said. “Geoff’s macarons have become so popular, that we now receive special orders for birthdays and holidays. The flavors change at his whim, so there’s always something new to try.”
The dark chocolate terrine has been on Revival’s menu since day one and it’s their number-one-selling dessert, Fletcher said, adding, “It was also Geoff’s idea and it evolves with the seasons. For the fall, we’ll likely pair it with a pumpkin whipped cream and cranberry brittle.”
Let’s not forget the adult beverages. Bartenders work closely with Fletcher to find local, seasonal beers and liquors.
“We love the rye whiskey from Tamworth Distilling which is prominently featured in our version of The Sazerac,” he said. “Sharing the back stories on products like these creates a real bond with our customers.”
Beers come mostly from around New England, including those from Concord Craft Brewers. Fletcher said, “It’s a little-known secret that we serve Bud Light. It’s not on our drinks menu, but we always have some in stock, thanks to my father-in-law.”
Technically, Budweiser is a New Hampshire brewery, as they produce and distribute beer to the entire Northeast, right from Merrimack.
New England cheeses and charcuterie platters are also served year-round. There are several shades of blue cheese on the menu, along with cheddar, camembert and even raclette. Apéro-style nibbles, such as marinated olives, fennel salami and Marcona almonds are also available.
Community involvement is important to Fletcher and his staff. This past August, Revival hosted the Second Annual Rock On Beer Dinner in support of the Rock On Foundation of New Hampshire. Fletcher also collaborates with fellow Concord-based Chef Beth Richards of Local Baskit, a meal kit service. He occasionally contributes recipes and recently taught their “Knife Skills for Kids” class, geared toward 10- to 12-year-olds.
“Happily the kids walked in (and out) with all 10 fingers intact,” he joked.
Revival Kitchen and Bar serves dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. Currently, there aren’t plans to expand the hours, but Revival can be reserved for private functions. Reservations are recommended.
Visit online at revivalkitchennh.com.