Craft Beer, Tapas & THE AVOCADO: Food trend hits downtown Watertown

Spokes Craft Beer & Tapas restaurant’s Ahi Spokes dish, with seared tuna, mango-avocado salsa and wasabi cream, sits on a table in the restaurant’s downtown Watertown location.

BY: Ali Townsend
Adjoining Watertown’s iconic Crystal Restaurant and full of contemporary flare, Spokes Craft Beer and Tapas has made its mark on the downtown district. The new restaurant recently commemorated its one-year anniversary – with significant cause to celebrate. This past year has been full of successes: livening up Public Square, serving as a new social space for residents to enjoy, and providing the north country with uniquely delectable, up-to-date dishes. The tapas created at Spokes are consistently on-mark with the ever-changing food trends.

Spokes Craft Beer & Tapas restaurant chef Dennis Lammerman poses for a portrait in the restaurant’s downtown Watertown location.

                Among these trends is the ever-so-popular “avocado craze.” While the fruit is well-known for singularity and staple uses, Spoke’s chef, Dennis Laemmermann has queued in on its versatility. Beginning his career in 1985, the Watertown native had the experience and understanding of what the area needs in terms of cuisine. He took the position as chef and kitchen manager because it presented, “an opportunity to build an experienced staff and the space to be creative with menu items.”

                Renowned for their (literal) 99 bottles of beer on the wall, the pairing possibilities between craft beers and these menu items appeared endless as well.

                The bicycle themed business is known to get creative with dishes. According to owner and operator Beth Bodah, “There are consistent items on the menu but also weekly features. The same goes with our craft beers which are rotated seasonally.” In order to consistently maintain this balance, the team at Spokes works to implement new, in-vogue dishes while retaining customer favorites.

                The summer of 2018 was essentially the summer of avocado for Spoke’s tapas. Remaining dedicated to serving the seasonally best recipes and keeping a cognizant eye on the industry’s trending recipes kept Laemmermann and his kitchen staff on track.

                The development of one of their most popular avo tapas was truly a group effort.

                The Ahi Tuna Spokes – in line with both the restaurant’s distinguishable theme and seasonal promise, have received local praise in the past few months. The initial idea for the dish was conceived by the owners. The concept and ingredients came from outside experiences and personal preferences. Blending traveled taste with knowledge on “what works,” the Tuna Spokes moved from a conceptual plan to a detailed, tested final product.

                The seared tuna surrounds a mound of avocado-mango salsa and is paired with wasabi cream.

                After extensive taste testing, this final recipe was developed by Dennis and his staff – now a featured and favorite item on the tapas menu. The success found by using avocado in the mango salsa “inspired other uses for the versatile ingredient,” says Laemmermann. Avocado is also featured in the fresh shrimp ceviche and the focus of the salsa plate as well as the shrimp martini.          

                For the chef, the versatility and multiple applications of avocado has overcome a prior distaste for the ingredient’s consistency. In recognizing it’s many uses, Laemmermann developed an appreciation for its many iterations. This has even led to the development of a knew, recently taste-tested Avocado Egg-roll.

                As the restaurant continues to experiment with taste and grow its authenticity, the mission of Spoke’s remains. Bodah states, “From the variety of beers and tapas to the atmosphere of the dining area and bar and especially the service they receive, our guest’s impression of Spokes begins the moment they walk in the door. We expect our guests to enjoy excellent food and to feel special every time they visit.”