Earlier today, just minutes before Scratch Burrito & Happy Tap opened in Berkeley, exec chef-owner Clay Markwell was peering over his kitchen crew, advising them how to wrap, roll and twist the corners on the aluminum foil that hug the bulging burritos emerging from the kitchen. By noon, an hour after Scratch opened, there was a line of hungry curiosity seekers jonesing for those burritos, all of which, says Markwell, who used to cook at TAG, "map back to different cultures and cuisines."
See also: - Clay Markwell opening Scratch Burrito & Happy Tap in the former Shazz space - Benny Kaplan, former chef of Shazz Cafe, opening Wafflich on Tennyson Street - Denver's five best breakfast burritos
There are eight burritos total, all priced at $9.50, and the ingredients -- many of them procured from nearby farms and producers -- zigzag from adobo pork and grilled vegetable quinoa salad to tandoori lamb swaddled with curried brown rice, dill pickle salad, raita with cilantro and crisped onions; they're all partnered with a seasonal side salad, the ingredients of which may come from Golden Acre Farm, located in Golden and owned by Jason Plotkin, who plans to stop by the restaurant every Saturday after the farmers' market.
"He's a great guy and his produce his awesome, so he's going to be dropping off whatever he has -- anything and everything -- and that will give us a chance to play around in the kitchen," says Markwell, whose staff includes Vicki Roopai, who also cooks at Hapa; Tim Rohr, the former kitchen manager at TAG; and Joe Stone, most recently the chef de cuisine at Ernie's Bar & Pizza. "I've got a great crew -- we're all industry people -- and we just want to have fun and deliver scratch-made food to your mouth," he adds.
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The menu, which also pimps housemade empanadas and salads, is reinforced by a strong beer and cocktail list, courtesy of Tyler Lewis, who also came to Scratch from TAG. His cocktails, which number eleven, are all $7 -- and you can also buy pitchers of them for $30 each -- a move that should be a big hit with imbibers. "I wanted to make the cocktail list really approachable but still push the envelope a bit, and I think they're really well-priced, especially since we're using a lot of small-batch Colorado spirits, making our own syrups, squeezing our own juices and pretty much doing everything in house -- and I love the idea of hanging out on the patio with a pitcher of cocktails," says Lewis.
The space, bedecked with a hackberry wood community table in the bar, acid-washed concrete floors, intricate metal work, canning jars vased with cacti, an open kitchen and chalkboard menus, is a vast improvement from its earlier days as Shazz Cafe, and the patio, strewn with picnic tables, is bound to see its share of lingerers, who can also play a game of bags in the parking lot.
Scratch is open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner; Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and on Sunday, breakfast is available until 11:30 a.m., and lunch until 3 p.m.
Here's a sneak peek of the space, the cocktails and the burritos...