While EVO Bakery is not the first local bakery to transform itself into a casual cafe at night — the now defunct Butter Cupcakes holds that honor — the Park Circle retail outlet is nightly providing a restaurant experience for both its chefs and its patrons.
Each week, a different chef from next door's EVO Pizza gets to create a menu of small plates and cook it up for a week at the bakery.
"They get to go crazy and do what they want and be creative," says server Adeline Mazyck.
They started offering a nightly menu last April, when the pastry operations moved out to a bread baking center in Hanahan. The relocation provided room for a cook to put out a small menu. Last month, they started rotating among the chefs at the pizza place.
For his second week at bat, sous chef Zach Turner is making a little bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, called Chef Boy-R-Dee ($10). The noodles are made from scratch, and the tiny meatballs from fresh Keegan-Filion pork.
The tart snapper ceviche comes packaged like a taco, with citrusy vermillion snapper and slivers of jalapeno nestled inside broad watermelon radish slices ($8). Turner's twist on beef tartare is served like a burrito, with chanterelles wrapped up in shaved slices of cold beef and served in a puddle of golden yellow yolk from a fresh Ambrose Farm egg ($9).
Turner and executive chef Matt Connelly both recently became certified mushroom foragers, so he felt like he had to add chanterelles to the dish. "I have to give a quick tutorial because it's so different," says Turner, who instructs me to stab a beef roll with my fork and give it a twist to get at the raw yolk. Weird. But good.
The vegetable plate featured a grilled squash spear alongside a pile of wilted kale, arugula and fresh corn with roasted red pepper and lemon vinaigrette ($7).
"Small, simple shareable plates is the idea," says Turner, who started at EVO washing dishes and has worked his way up to sous chef. For his menus, Turner includes a taco, a pasta and whatever the season suggests. The taco this time around is a lengua or beef tongue taco ($8). He's also serving hummus with vegetables ($8).
Mazyck says word is still spreading about the evening offerings, and they're slowly growing in popularity. As I was finishing up my dinner, a regular customer of the bakery dropped in to find the new menu. "It's like a chef's table in the kitchen," she said, as she ordered and sat down at the community table located just a few steps from where Turner was working.
Next week executive chef Connelly gets a turn at the bakery. Stay tuned to its Instagram to see the weekly menu. EVO Bakery is located at 1075 E. Montague and serves small plates from 5-10 p.m. nightly.