Adams’ biggest influence can be seen in the size of Flatwater’s menu. “I looked at what they were doing best,” he says, “and I saw that they had great barbecue, especially the ribs and smoked brisket. And the tuna tartare and tacos showed Latin and Asian influences. So I wanted to take those flavors farther.” Aside from switching out the corned beef that Flatwater bought for their Reuben with the brisket they were already making in house, Adams has increased the vegetarian options significantly. He’s added locally made seitan from Seiten High Fives/Killer Tofu (familiar to customers of Three Carrots at City Market) and lighter dishes like Korean lettuce wraps with a spicy ssam sauce and an aromatic rice noodle salad where the seitan comes perfumed with lemongrass and mixed with plenty of veggies, basil, peanuts, and Sriracha-lime dressing. Seitan even stars in one of Flatwater’s retooled tacos.
Flatwater’s already legendary bloody Mary bar is still served at brunch, along with house-made fries that Adams utilizes in poutine topped with pulled pork, Fair Oaks cheddar curds, and gravy made from the pulled pork juices. Eggs from Fisher Farms are optional add-ons. Adams has scaled down the menu offerings, which not only helps increase quality, but it’s also brought Flatwater’s food costs down. “Streamlining a menu is a great way to save a few bucks while emphasizing what the restaurant does best,” Adams says. Now almost everything is homemade, including the desserts, and many more products are sourced locally, including meats from Fischer Farms and pasta from nearby Nicole-Taylor’s Pasta and Market. Adams even recouped some cooler space for fresh ingredients by converting an old freezer the kitchen doesn’t need anymore. Though Adams only plans to stay with Flatwater through midsummer, this fun, challenging project has been perfect for him to take some time to mull over his next big move.