Unionville's Cure Restaurant
Delicious food at a reasonable price? Check! Positive engagement with the local community? Check! A craft cocktail list that rivals your favorite bar in Manhattan? Check! The knowledge and ability to cure bacon? Uhhh…check! Unionville’s Cure Restaurant is embracing what it means to be a purveyor of quality, innovative food that is locally sourced. General Manager Karen Rokosa said “we came up with this concept of trying to cure all of our own bacon, which is where the name comes from, while using as much locally sourced ingredients as possible, partnering with as many local businesses as possible, and really being involved with the community.”
The food is a mix of classic American pub fare and innovative gastropub cuisine - beer and bacon flights, lobster grilled cheese, duck pastrami, and mac n’ cheese made with a four cheese sauce can constantly be seen on waiters’ trays traveling from kitchen to table. Rokosa says head chef Derek will be introducing more tapa-style items to the menu as well, while continuing to follow their mission of being farm sustainable. “We’re definitely non-GMO, no antibiotics - even if we’re not getting it from right down the road, we’re trying to be careful about what we serve.”
Bar Manager Aileen Gracy, who previously worked at Wood-n-Tap, says that even though she has only been working at Cure for a short time, she is impressed with the knowledge and creativity of the other mixologists behind the bar. Gracy says, “I think what’s so incredible about this place is that we can grow from each other, which is so different than any place I’ve ever worked before…Everyone uses strawberries so we might try blackberries or blueberries - we try to find some sort of niche.” Rokosa echoes the pressure many restaurants feel to offer an extensive list craft cocktails. “I read an article recently called “Say Goodbye to your Hipster Bartender.” It basically said that it’s expected now - you expect a good cocktail if you go anywhere. I think the cool twist we have here is we still do things like smoking our glasses so it gives you a different nose. We make a lot of our own syrups and bitters, we have an herb garden outside and [the bartenders] use a lot of the stuff in our cocktails.”
Cure is divided into two separate room - upon entering, guests stand in a pub-like space with wooden walls and floors, high bar tables and stools, and a large bar glistening with liquors in every color of the rainbow. On the back wall, a large cut out of a whiskey family tree hangs, describing the origins and relationships between various kinds of whiskey. The back room is a bit more formal - lower tables, brighter lightening, and cream tablecloths invite you to stand up a bit straighter, a feeling the entire staff is trying to change. Rokosa explains, “We’re very casual and someone will walk in the dining room and pull me aside and be like ‘am I dressed okay?’ The big difference is people come in and one table is ordering burgers and nachos and the other table is ordering four courses and a bottle of wine. That’s fine because of course everyone is welcome but we’re looking at ways to make it be a little more relaxed so people don’t feel like there’s as big of a difference here.”
One thing that is consistent throughout the entire restaurant is their commitment to community engagement. Rokosa said she is approached at least three times a week by local organizations to participate in fundraisers, benefit dinners, or donate gift cards. Their most recent project they participated in was “Taste of Farmington,” which raised over $18,000 for the Farmington Food Pantry. “The whole thing is communities for a cause, so its really pulling in people from Farmington Valley - local restaurants, bars, caterers - and just raising money for a really great cause. The cause can change every year but we want to be involved.” Cure also offers an industry discount for employees of local restaurants and barber shops, as well as all first responders and military personnel - an initiative particularly important to Rokosa and Gracy.
Despite the innovation of the bartenders and the kitchen staffs’ commitment to locally sourced ingredients, Cure Restaurant is not pretentious. The prices are reasonable (appetizers range from $8-$14, sandwiches range from $8-$15, and main courses range from $17-$36), especially when considering that all of the ingredients are high quality ones. Dining without pesticides doesn’t cost as much as you might expect.
Cure Restaurant, which is located where the restaurant Matthew’s formerly was, will be open for two years as of this August. It is located at 55 Mill Street in Unionville, CT. Follow their Facebook and Instagram accounts for news on menu changes, updates to the restaurant, special events, and visit them online to learn more.
And for more restaurant insight and exploration, be sure to visit the author's site, Kelly in the Kitchen!