Grass-fed beef, homemade kimchi, hummus, and a raspberry crepe. Fine dining? Definitely. Sit-down restaurant? Nope. These culinary delights are just part of what’s being served by food trucks and farms, year-round, on the patio of Brewery Legitimus in New Hartford. Co-owner Christina Sayer is happy to have them along for the ride. “We knew we were going to have food trucks when we opened, because we wanted to focus on the beer and not open a restaurant,” Sayer says. “We didn’t feel like that was our strong suit. And now, we can offer something different every night. It’s high-quality food made by chefs who are cooking these amazing meals in a small space.”
One of Brewery Legitimus’ regulars is Christie Caters Farm-to-Truck. Laura and William Christie started catering together in 2002, got married, and ultimately launched Christie Caters in 2010. Six years later, while maintaining their status as personal chefs, they took their catering business on the road with their food truck, focusing on locally grown and sustainable gourmet food.
The Christies embraced the food truck model partially due to relocation. When the couple moved from the Stamford area north to Barkhamsted, they would not have a storefront or restaurant for people to get to know them. “It’s hard to dial into a new community of people to work for,” Laura Christie says, “so we kept traveling down to clients in Greenwich. Then there was [an economic] crash, and we lost a lot of business. We had to figure out what to do and how to let people in our area know who we are.” Inspired by a client who recommended the 2014 film Chef, about a restaurant owner who rebuilds his life and career with a food truck, the Christies changed their strategy but maintained their dedication to healthy (and delicious) food. We’re talking buffalo cauliflower, tacos with wild shrimp, and perfectly seasoned crab, not to mention a handful of vegan and gluten-free selections. “’Something for everyone,’ that’s been our motto from the start,” Laura Christie says.
While the Christies have worked with many different breweries since opening their truck, they’ve stuck with Brewery Legitimus, which is not only local to them, but enjoys a loyal customer following. They’ve made dishes with beer from the brewery, such as their popular “Legit Shrimp.” They also use ingredients from local farms, including Barden Farm in New Hartford, Holcomb Farm in West Granby, and Bristol’s Farm Market in Canton. “Legitimus has become a second home for our truck,” says Laura Christie, “and we love being a part of the food scene that surrounds it.”
If international flavors are more the diner’s speed, they need look no further than another consistent visitor to Brewery Legitimus, the Baba Ghanoush Food Truck. Their Middle Eastern dishes (such as falafel, gyros, and grape leaves) reflect the brick-and-mortar origins of the truck: the Tangiers International Market in Hartford. Winfield Latif, a partner with Baba Ghanoush, explains that his parents opened Tangiers in 1995, but it was only two years ago that a friend approached him about starting a food truck to serve dishes inspired by Egyptian and Moroccan cuisine. “Rents are crazy, and restaurants are a big gamble with a terrible failure rate,” says Latif. “This way, we can expand Tangiers’ products in a whole new space."
It didn’t take long for Latif and his partner to find success, and now, they are booked for brewery appearances months in advance, with their truck currently out five days a week. Latif looks forward to the day when they can employ a fleet of trucks to better serve the brewery market that has helped them flourish. “Breweries are our bread and butter,” he says.
One taste of their offerings will make it clear that quality is paramount for Latif and company. “If you have to charge more for quality ingredients, people recognize that. We aren’t just throwing food into a fryer,” Latif says. The result is cuisine that feels custom made for Legitimus’ high-quality brews. The “flyro” (a combination falafel and gyro) with lamb pairs perfectly with Legitimus’ Kolsch. India pale ales match the tartness of the baba ghanoush, and nearly anything on tap complements the fried chickpeas. “We don’t want to serve food that’s not up to par,” Latif says. “It’s the same philosophy we have at Tangiers.”
Ready for dessert? That, too, can be found at Legitimus, as well as savory selections from Crepe Hut, a food truck run by another husband-and-wife team, pastry chef Brian and attorney Yulia Chillington. After considering opening up a restaurant, they decided that a food truck that showcased the versatile pastry was the better option.
Their offerings include sweet delicacies made lightning fast, like the pumpkin cheesecake and honey walnut crepe, but also heartier (and less traditional) fare like barbecue pulled pork and buffalo chicken crepes. “There is one thing in common between craft breweries and food trucks: the offerings are unique and tailored to our customers,” says Brian Chillington. “There's a movement away from the big chain restaurants and beer made by large companies to this more intimate, craft experience.”
“Food trucks and breweries are a perfect match,” said Chris Pooley of CTFoodTrucks.com, which helps people find food trucks and catering. Pooley estimated there are more than 300 food trucks, trailers, and mobile carts operating in the state. “I'm seeing more and more new trucks and trailers starting up every month, so the trend isn't showing any signs of slowing down.”
Fresh food that comes to Brewery Legitimus is not always on a plate, however. Barden Farm has collaborated with the brewery to create a Community Supported Agriculture program that also includes beer and cheese. This allows CSA members access to weekly pickups that include a box of produce and that might also include flowers, eggs, cheese, and beer. The pickup is on-site, which brings some folks to the brewery that might not otherwise visit and further cements Legitimus as a part of their community’s local food scene, especially since the seasonal share cycle culminates with a group dinner. But you don’t have to be a CSA member to enjoy Barden Farm’s goods. There is also a market stand at the brewery that offers patrons the opportunity to purchase vegetables, cheese, and baked goods.
Whatever the cuisine may be, the patrons are ultimately the benefactors of Legitmus’ gathering of great food and drink. “I think it’s just a good, symbiotic relationship,” Sayer says. “They get people who are interested in great beer, and we get people who are interested in great food made with quality, local ingredients. It’s the best of both worlds.”
> Brewery Legitimus: 283 Main St., New Hartford; 860-238-7870