chef's table

TEAM SPIRIT

West Street Market vendors’ unusual approach makes casual dining a culinary adventure.

WRITTEN BY BARBARA TWITCHELL
PHOTOS BY SHEA EVANS

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“All for one and one for all …” wrote Alexandre Dumas in his classic novel, The Three Musketeers.

Although swords and swashbuckling are conspicuously absent at Reno’s West Street Market, the food and beverage purveyors now occupying that venue seem to have embraced that same philosophy. They’re connected, both literally and figuratively, sharing not only a physical space but a team commitment unexpected among ostensible competitors.

“We work off one another while also working together,” says Sabrina Kelly, owner of Sabrina’s West Street Kitchen. “Everybody is everybody else’s cheerleader.”

Those aren’t just empty words. They actually encourage customers to spread their business around the marketplace. With lots of shared common space for dining, both indoors and out, it’s not unusual to see a table where the diners have an assortment of beverages, entrées, and desserts from each of the six vendors.

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Deep roots

This unusual arrangement is facilitated by the setting — three single-story, brick buildings, arranged in a u-shape around an open plaza.

In 2008, the City of Reno’s Redevelopment Agency leased the nearly century-old buildings, with the goal of repurposing the historic structures into a vibrant urban marketplace. Following extensive renovation, West Street Market opened in January 2009. The timing proved unfortunate as it was in the midst of The Great Recession.

Since that time, the marketplace has had its struggles, seeing a succession of vendors come and go. West Street Wine Bar is the only original tenant still in operation there. The owner, Rick Martinez, still believes the venue has great potential.

Current tenants share his optimism. They believe that it’s the right time, the right place, and the right combination of vendors to make this the hip, happening venue it deserves to be.

The place

The exposed brick walls, high ceilings, and open rafters impart a trendy, casual, urban vibe to the common indoor seating areas. The feel is spacious and open while offering ample seating options that include booths, tables, bars/counters, and even sofas. Walls display the work of local artists, with the featured artist changing monthly. Table seating in the courtyard is available for pleasant, warmer days.

The location couldn’t be better — just a block from the Riverwalk and the Century Riverside Theatres. The largest parking structure in town is only half a block away and is free when any of the market vendors validate your parking receipt.

De-lightful

Rich Selden has the advantage of already having a loyal following from his previous restaurant, Café DeLuxe, and food truck, Electric Blue Elephant. The DeLuxe, like its predecessor, focuses on healthy, organic, locally sourced food. It’s also well known for its vegan and vegetarian dishes, but Selden emphasizes that he actually offers an inclusive menu.

“Every dish starts out vegan,” Selden says. “Then you can add whatever protein you’d like — organic tofu, organic chicken, or grass-fed, free-range flank steak.”

Although quality ingredients are important to Selden, he insists the focus always is on flavor. He runs a scratch kitchen, he says. Everything — even condiments and sauces — are made in house. Offering mostly Asian-inspired dishes makes it easy to create foods that are both healthy and delicious, he adds.

Specialties include Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, Korean-inspired kim chi tacos, and Selden’s signature hand salad, a giant salad wrapped in rice paper and drenched in an amazing sauce for an explosion of flavor. The tempura fries, made with eggplant and sweet potatoes coated with a gluten-free tempura batter, are as unusual as they are delectable.

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A taste of home

Serj Singh had a dream. He wanted to open a restaurant that serves real, home-style Indian food — the kind his mother cooked. Thali is that dream come true.

“We’re not focusing on a chef level,” Singh says. “We’re focusing on a mother level.”

And if you think he’s kidding, peek into Thali’s kitchen. The head cook is, you guessed it, his mother — serving up food just as she would from her home kitchen.

Preserving traditional dishes from his family’s ancestral region is important to Singh. As a result, Thali specializes in authentic family dishes from Punjab state in Northern India, offering lentil dishes, vegetable curries, chutney, rice pilaf, raita (yogurt), and handmade chapatis (flatbreads).

The menu reflects the Punjab custom of vegetarian meals, utilizing fresh, seasonal vegetables. Much of those come from the Prema Organics farm belonging to Thali’s co-owner, Zach Cannady.

And as with a family meal, the menu of offerings is set for the day. Your plate comes filled with a variety of items, each distinctive and complementary in flavor. Servings are unlimited.

“We focus on one plate each day and we do it best,” Singh says. “Keep it simple, keep it organic, keep it as local as possible, support the community we live in. That is our mission.”

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Sol sister

Perhaps the most unusual offering at the market can be had by bellying up to the bar at Sol. It’s the only place in Reno, and one of the few places in the country, where you can get a good, stiff shot of kava.

Say what?

Kava is a drink made from the roots of the kava plant, which grows in the South Pacific. It’s been used throughout Polynesia for centuries, prized for its calming effects. Advocates say it produces a feeling of peace and well-being while also increasing mental clarity.

Kristen Jaskulski, Sol’s owner, is a natural-food advocate and health coach by training. She’s never been much of a drinker, she says, but liked the relaxing, social aspect of bars. While living in Hawaii a few years back, she discovered kava bars and knew she had stumbled onto something special.

Sol sells kava drinks by the coconut shell, including a flavor-of-the-day variety (mint chocolate and orange creamsicle both draw raves), and elixirs (try Dream. Yum!). Sol also offers teas and tonics that can be infused with kava or other boosters, as well as plant-based desserts and snacks.

Working plan B

When the recession hit, Sabrina Kelly’s 30-year career as a mortgage loan officer took a nosedive. Self-pity reigned for a while, she says.

But this gutsy lady always loved to travel. So the Reno native packed her bags, headed to a little village in Belize, and started an open-air restaurant, which she successfully operated for six years.

Kelly recently returned to Reno for family reasons. Sabrina’s West Street Kitchen brings a culturally and globally diverse cuisine to our doorstep. The menu offerings include favorite dishes Kelly has come across in her travels, tweaked with her creative flair, often with a tropical twist based upon her time in Belize.

Everything’s made from scratch, and specialties include Cuban black bean soup, stacked ceviche, Thai noodle salad, and homemade ginger ale.

Good news: All restaurants in West Street Market offer gluten-free and vegan versions of their menu offerings.

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Grand finale

West Street Wine Bar is a cozy, intimate spot with a great vibe. It stocks more than 50 varieties of wine, served by the glass or bottle, as well as an assortment of beers.

And last, but certainly not least, mosey over to IceCyle Creamery for a scoop or two of scrumptious, handmade ice cream. Owner Jeremy DeMarzo makes the most creative, interesting flavors you can ever imagine. Maple bacon in a waffle cone, anyone?

Reno-based freelance writer Barbara Twitchell says the market is now her go-to casual dining spot, with so many great things to eat and drink, and that kava … wow! Or better yet, as the Fijians say, bula (or cheers)!

Resources

West Street Market is located at 148 West St., Reno.

For details about special events and activities, visit Facebook.com/pg/weststreetmarket/events.

IceCycle Creamery

775-470-5288 • Icecyclecreamery.com

Open noon – 9 p.m., Sun. and Tues.—Thurs., noon – 10 p.m. Fri. – Sat. Closed Monday.

Sabrina’s West Street Kitchen

775-683-9378 • Find Sabrina’s West Street Kitchen on Facebook

Open 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and 5 – 8 p.m. Mon. – Sat. Closed Sunday.

Sol

775-686-6774 • Solkava.com

Open 5 – 11 p.m. Tues. – Sun. Closed Monday.

Thali

775-772-8652 • Thalireno.com

Open 5 – 9 p.m. Thurs. – Sun.

The DeLuxe

775-686-6773 • Deluxereno.com

Open 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Tues. – Fri., 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sat. – Sun. Closed Monday.

West Street Wine Bar

775-336-3560 • Weststreetwinebar.com

Open 1 – 10 p.m. Mon. – Thurs., 1 p.m. – midnight (or later) Fri. – Sat., 1 – 9 p.m. Sun.

Recipes

Mint Chutney

(courtesy of Serj Singh, co-owner, Thali in Reno. Makes about 1 quart)

3 bunches mint, without hard stems

1 bunch cilantro

2 medium onions (red preferred), chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)

1½ tablespoons sugar

½ tablespoon garam masala

½ cup red wine vinegar

2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped

3 jalapeños (or fewer, according to how spicy you like it), chopped

Wash and chop mint and cilantro. Add to blender with onions and tomatoes. While blender is running, add apples and vinegar. Add jalapeños, salt, sugar, and garam masala. Blend to a smooth paste. Enjoy this spicy mint chutney with Indian foods such as samosas, pakoras, or with whatever you feel goes best with it.

Winter Hand Salad with Tamari Garlic-Roasted Butternut Squash and Orange-Cranberry-Avocado Vinaigrette

(courtesy of Rich Selden, owner, The DeLuxe in Reno. Serves 4)

Here is a seasonal delight that nicely bridges the gap between fall and winter. It’s actually three recipes in one. Combine all three for a truly authentic DeLuxe Winter Hand Salad, or use each recipe individually. Any hard squash can be used in this recipe, so utilize your garden’s winter squash or grab one of the many varieties available at the Great Basin Community Co-op in Reno.

Tamari Garlic-Roasted Butternut Squash

1 large butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 tablespoon tamari (or regular soy sauce, if you don’t care about the dish being gluten free)

1 tablespoon coconut sugar 

3 large garlic cloves

1 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon sea salt 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together except squash. Add squash and toss. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out squash evenly. Cover with foil. Cook 20 minutes, stir, and bake another 10 minutes. Let cool and serve.

Orange-Cranberry-Avocado Vinaigrette

½ cup dried, sweetened cranberries 

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup 

¼ tablespoon orange juice, freshly squeezed

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

½ avocado  

Blend all ingredients together except avocado in blender until mixture is fully emulsified (at least 1 minute). Add avocado and blend until creamy. Add a little water if dressing seems too thick.

Winter Hand Salad

4 large rice papers

2 cups tamari garlic-roasted butternut squash 

1 cup walnuts, chopped 

2 cups fresh spinach 

1½ cups pea or sunflower shoots

1 large avocado, sliced

1 cup orange-cranberry-avocado vinaigrette 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and roast chopped walnuts 10 minutes or until slightly brown. Dip rice paper into large mixing bowl filled with water so that rice paper is completely submerged; remove from water immediately. Lay wet rice paper down on cutting board and cover paper with layer of chopped walnuts. Cover walnuts with handful of spinach. Place ½ cup butternut squash on top of spinach. Cover butternut squash with nice layer of pea or sunflower shoots and a few avocado slices. When rice paper turns from hard to soft, you’ll know you’re ready to roll. Pull the side of rice paper closest to your waist up toward the front, all while tucking the ingredients in toward your waist. Pick up sides of paper and fold them in toward center. Continue rolling until it’s all wrapped up! Serve with orange-cranberry-avocado vinaigrette (you can pour it into the roll or dip roll in dressing). Enjoy! Serve immediately or rice paper will dry up. Store for up to 1 day if each wrap is tightly sealed in plastic wrap.

Taste of Thai Noodle Salad

(courtesy of Sabrina Kelly, owner, Sabrina’s West Street Kitchen in Reno. Serves 2)

Salad base

8 ounces rice noodles, softened in hot water

1 red bell pepper, cut in a julienne

1 small piece daikon, cut in a julienne

1 cucumber, cut in a julienne

1 medium carrot, cut in a julienne

Toppings

Fresh jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced

Thai basil 

Cilantro

Chopped, unsalted peanuts

Bean sprouts

Lime slices

Dressing

NOTE: Feel free to double if you like it saucy.

¼ teaspoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Sriracha

2 tablespoons lime juice

½ teaspoon cornstarch

Combine noodles, bell pepper, daikon, cucumber, and carrot. Combine dressing ingredients until blended. Dress salad to taste. Top with jalapeño, basil, cilantro, peanuts, and sprouts. Serve with lime, Sriracha, and fish sauce.  

From left, Jan Solberg, Brenda Horton, Susan Hamarlund, and Sue Higgins of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Fleet Reserve Association serve muffins to veterans at Carson City’s Veterans Memorial Hall

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