The women behind Brockton General have such a passion for what they are doing and our visit there was evidence of that.
Words by Christina Gonzales
Photography by Chuck Ortiz
“Pea shoots” she pointed out. Alex Feswick, head chef of Brockton General
was giving us a quick tour of the garden. Birkenstocks, a black shirt, hair-in-
a-bun with a printed scarf wrapped around it, I instantly admired her. She
was understated, charmingly humble and young. We continued around the
kitchen. “A coconut, my mom gave me.” And in that, the essence of this
establishment: it’s like a visit to a good friend’s home.
Alex grew up in Dundas Ontario, a long drive down the same road where the restaurant sits. A family of Italian and Ukrainian descent, her mother was adventurous in the kitchen, a trait Alex states she’s inherited. As a result, she and her brother were exposed to a rotating menu at the family table, significant preparation for what could be her most momentous gig thus far. The menu changes daily here – written on a piece of paper and hung in the dining room – in keeping with authenticity of the place. One of the owners, Brie Read, politely asks if Alex has some time to powwow about tonight’s dishes. I loiter around the kitchen and instantly realize that I could never be a chef, especially on crowded, humid afternoons like this – though Alex, is more than accommodating.
By 8:30 pm the restaurant is bustling and I watch a group of customers in view. They seem familiar; young, professional and hoping to embody people of “good taste”. Brie approaches our table and I see golden pork belly, its rich scent wafts toward me. Beside it, raw candy cane beets and apples shaped like hickory sticks and stacked like hay with a dollop of grainy mustard as a compliment to the already victorious ingredients. I take a bite of the pork belly and it blankets my tongue with grease until the beet and apple cut the weight; a flawlessly balanced dish.
Cluttering the table are mismatched plates of china: creamy oat risotto on one, and on another, maltagliati, duck confit and mustard green seedlings married to create a bleak looking dish the colour of a cloudy day yet exceptionally memorable, rustic, flavourful and real. Every dish is down-to-earth and resembling Alex – moving, to experience such blatant personality in her food.
Another favourite is the peperonata, goat cheese and capers on grilled bread. A modest aperitif combining what I believe to be, the world’s unsung delicacies: peppers bathed in tomato and onion, velvet goat cheese and the pleasurable addition of briny capers. Presents on a piece of bread; frankly, I could eat dozens of these.
Beyond the delightful yet incompatible wooden chairs, orphaned and paired among one another since B.G. has opened over a year ago, I see one couple, poised and eclectically dressed. Could these be the regulars that Alex has told me about? Mid-forties with the money and demeanour of ex-rock stars I envision their pasts and wonder about the journey to their present. In an earlier conversation with Brie, she tells me about her previous job as an assistant at Morgan Stanley – an environment so far removed from what she desired. Along with Pam, at 28 years old, she’s a first time restaurant owner offering up this reflection, “after working for myself, I can never go back.”
There is theme that runs in the veins of this restaurant – authenticity. A group of women ultimately searching for the same thing as you and me: Oz. In this case, I think they’ve found it. But more than likely, B.G. is just another stop along yellow brick road.