A new restaurant is on the brink of opening in Waltham and promises a wealth of globally inspired food, a hefty amount of New England craft beers, and a wide selection of bourbon. Brewer’s Tap & Table has some final tasks to check off before it can open at 256 Moody St., but when it does, executive chef Matt Sargent will make his debut in the Boston restaurant world.
Sargent, along with his wife Nancy, previously lived in Vermont, where he worked as a design builder of custom houses for around 25 years. About five years ago, he hit a wall.
"I loved it, but I just felt like I had done everything I wanted to do in that realm," Sargent told Eater. He started dabbling in food, and soon he and Nancy were putting on underground dinners, announcing the location only a day or two beforehand. They named it "Phantom Dinner," and it soon gained popularity, to the point where the Sargents were doing at least one seven- to 10-course dinner each month.
"It was a blast. That’s sort of what proved to us that people did like the food, and we really enjoyed preparing it," Sargent said. They later opened the Phantom Truck and cruised around the Burlington area, constantly changing the menu and serving creative food done food-truck style for swarms of people. The Phantom saga ended with a 50-seat restaurant in Waitsfield.
The Sargents’ journey to Waltham began when Joe Slesar, who owns the space at 256 Moody St., visited Phantom. As Sargent said, they hit it off, and Slesar convinced the pair to move to Boston to do something on a bigger scale. Turns out, it’s a much bigger scale: Brewer’s Tap & Table can seat around 250 people, including patio space.
Sargent said that he was kind of a jack of all trades at Phantom in Vermont, so with a larger space and more staff, he will be able to focus more on actually being an executive chef. The menu will be small, with 20 to 24 items, Sargent said, but it will be similar to Phantom in the sense that dishes will rotate every week or so, drawing inspiration from around the world.
"I do a lot of Asian and Latin American-style dishes," Sargent said. "I do a lot of stuff that’s inspired by American Southern cooking," meaning he uses a lot of grits in various incarnations. The menu will not be meat-heavy, but it will use quality meats as embellishments in dishes, Sargent said, so diners can leave satisfied but not feeling like they’re overly full.
"We kind of cook the way my wife and I like to eat," he said, incorporating bright, cool flavors. "We love our pork, chicken, and beef, but we also really love grains and vegetables. There are definitely as many vegetable and grain dishes on the menu as there are meat."
The same holds true for gluten-free and vegan options, so Brewer’s Tap & Table will be able to accommodate all manner of diners, Sargent said.
At the bar, guests will learn where the restaurant gets its name. With 48 taps, the restaurant will be able to focus heavily on New England craft beers, and Sargent said he hoped to stock limited releases that are hard to find elsewhere. "We’re definitely calling ourselves a craft beer bar and new American restaurant," he said.
Beyond the beer, the Sargents will highlight another true love of theirs: bourbon. They plan to stock products that are harder to find or obscure, and they will balance those options with a list of classic cocktails.
Sargent said his first career played a role in the restaurant, which used to house Watch City Brewing Co. and served as a warehouse before that.
"We’ve completely renovated and kept the industrial vibe very much intact," Sargent said. There’s steel and concrete, but it feels warm, with wooden accents he crafted himself. Sargent also helped build the bars and constructed a handful of large beer hall-style tables for the restaurant.
"There’s a lot of me in the infrastructure as well as the food," he said.
The final steps before opening include hanging shelves and art on the wall and installing lights, among a handful of other tasks. Sargent is working with the city to get a live music permit for the grand opening, which could be in the beginning of September. In the meantime, Brewer's Tap & Table is hiring employees, with job fairs this weekend and next.