Jason Brown tried other jobs before he came back to the industry he loved.
It’s the one where he cooks delicious food and feeds people—the job he started as a 15-year-old dishwasher, and later cook, at Noa Noa Wood Grill & Sushi Bar in Warsaw. Now, he runs his own Warsaw restaurant, One Ten Craft Meatery.
“I did orthopedics for 5½ years and I hated going to work every single day,” he said.
Brown and his business partner, Jennifer Keefer, oversaw the renovation of 110 N. Buffalo St. in downtown Warsaw. When he asked people walking down the street what kind of restaurant the city needed, they tended to say Italian or a steakhouse. On Jan. 5, One Ten Craft Meatery opened.
There isn’t really another restaurant like it in northern Indiana. It’s a steakhouse, meat market and sandwich shop. It’s got a funky feel and the dishes on the menu let the flavors of locally raised meat shine through.
110 N. Buffalo St., Warsaw
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday; 5 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Though some would call it crazy, Brown is working long hours — and having a blast.
He’s using the skills he learned preparing seafood at Noa Noa and cooking bacon, ribeye and burgers.
He’s selling flights of bacon – three types served on a cutting board – and pieces threaded on skewers for $3 as a side or appetizer. “I am amazed at the acceptance of bacon as a concept,” he said.
Most of the bacon comes from Jake’s Country Meats in Casspolis, but the glorious BLT ($9) features lamb bacon from Smoking Goose in Indianapolis with garlic mayonnaise and greens on focaccia. Occasionally you’ll find wild boar bacon at One Ten, as well.
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The restaurant is open for lunch weekdays and for dinner Thursday through Saturday.
This is a meat-centric restaurant featuring animals that came from nearby farms. The lunch menu also includes The Schnitzel, a breaded pork loin served with red onion and dill cream. Warsaw got its steak place, but what’s selling is pork—far beyond the bacon.
The Brown ($11) is selling so well the restaurant can’t quite keep up with demand and it isn’t always available. The ground beef is made by aging and grinding the meat from an entire animal, then served on a brioche bun with a smoked gouda and white cheddar crisp, and caramelized red onion. I’m salivating to try it.
The Rib Buy ($23) is one of the best steaks you can find in northern Indiana in terms of flavor. It’s rubbed with smoked salt and topped with lemon butter and portabella mushrooms fried in duck fat. A friend who reveres steak, but has high standards, called it the best steak he’s had in years.
Not all the customers care that the meat is local. Not all of them want to hear the story. But all of them want good food for what they’re paying. The average check is $12 to $14 per person at lunch and $47 or so at dinner, including appetizers, drinks and tip.
“You can have a schtick all you want,” Brown said. “At the end of the day your schtick doesn’t mean crap if it doesn’t taste good.”
- RELATED: One Ten Craft Meatery opens its doors specializing in locally sourced meats, Jan 8, 2015
What’s remarkable about One Ten isn’t how good the meat is. A temple to local meat should serve meat dishes that enhance the natural flavor of a cut, but not overpower it. What’s remarkable is how good the vegetables are.
Granted, duck fat will always make a potato glorious before it goes down someone’s gullet as a fried bit of goodness. The same goes for a portabella mushroom.
But creating a delicious dish by ricing cauliflower (chopping it in a way that approximates the texture of rice) and serving with a shiitake cream sauce isn’t something a restaurant dedicated to meat automatically does. Neither are mashed sweet potatoes or pickled cauliflower that sing with flavor.
Even the house salad is wonderful. The blend of romaine, candied bacon, bleu cheese, parmesan, caramelized red onion, tomato and croutons worked well with buttermilk ranch dressing.
The bread in the sandwiches can overpower the meat and be a bit greasy, depending on the preparation. Service can sometimes falter a bit with longer-than-needed spaces between server visits. It’d be nice to have more than wine or cider with a meal, though the list of options is put together with care. These are small issues for a restaurant that’s not yet six months old.
The summer menu that debuts today will be lighter and fresher than the first one, Brown said.
One Ten’s employees will continue the difficult work of teaching people what medium means in a steak. That’s a discussion that a congressional subcommittee, and nearly every meat eater in America, can’t seem to agree on. Just bring me my steak medium-rare, meaning pink headed toward red and warm in the middle.
One Ten Meatery has a meat market and will add a banquet room eventually. It may expand dinner hours. But so far, Jason Brown and Jennifer Keefer’s restaurant is off to a good start. It’s worth a visit by not just carnivores. Vegetarians and omnivores are welcome and will find something good to eat as well.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat.
Editor’s note: Jason is married to Kendall Schultz, not Keefer as the original version of this story stated. We apologize for the error.