Wanna be a Kau boy: A Triadfoodies Chef’s Table
Front and center at the sprawling, 50-acre, historic Revolution Mill, sits a restaurant that has set its sights on being the heartbeat of it all. Built in the 1890s as the first flannel mill in the South, it helped put the Triad on the manufacturing map. But as we all know, demands changed and the mill was closed. As of the early 2000s, Revolution Mill has been revitalized and transformed into office, event and living spaces.
Kau Restaurant, Butcher and Bar sits in the former carpentry building at Revolution Mill. Looking around, it is quite evident that its century-old wood has been repurposed, and the gorgeous building- from its floors to its high beams- is a sight to behold. The care and attention to detail do not go unnoticed. It’s lovely, casual and beautifully adorned with bovine decor. There’s no doubt what Kau is: a restaurant dedicated to meat. After all, you walk right by a butcher’s market to get to your table. Don’t worry, plant-lovers, there’s plenty for you, too.
Kayne Fisher said his dream has always been to have a restaurant that included a butcher’s market. A place to have lunch, dinner or to swing by at the end of the day and pick up ingredients. Fisher said that is the way he and his grandparents did it when he enjoyed his summers with them in Detroit. “It started this passion in me that one day, I’m going to open up my own little market, with a few cafe tables, and it’s going to have a butchery,” he said. “And we’re going to cut it and cook it. And if we don’t cook it, you can take it home and cook it for yourself. To be sitting here doing that now is a dream come true.”
Fisher grew up in New Mexico and Colorado, but his family eventually moved to North Carolina. After he attended UNCG, he put down roots and began his restauranteur life with business partner Chris Lester, for Old Town Draught House, First Street Draught House, and Tap Room. Those ventures led to Greensboro’s own Natty Greene’s. The two enjoyed success and opened the brewpub downtown and then Natty Greene’s Kitchen at Revolution Mill. A year ago, Fisher parted with Lester and took the food aspect of NGK with him, while Lester continued with the brewery. Thus, Kau was born. “We decided to each follow our own passions, and that’s when I could unleash the full potential of this concept.” The guests of the Chef’s Table were promised a butcher’s journey and were met with Fisher’s vision of what that journey is: cure, brine, grind, smoke, cut. And at Kau, they do it all in-house.
Beet-cured Salmon with cracker,
egg, scallion, dill spread
To kick off the evening with salmon and not some form of red meat was a bit of a surprise. But the salmon, which looked almost like carpaccio, was a delightful first course to whet the palate. A perfect party “flavor” for a dinner.
Collard Macaroni and Cheese with
a bacon-glazed, house-made bacon strip
You had me at macaroni and cheese, collards and at bacon. This course could’ve been a satisfying meal all on its own.
Duck and Sausage Flatbread with roasted garlic bechamel, arugula, roasted red pepper, truffle oil, white cheddar, Parmesan
Each table got their own pizzas, and guests enjoyed this course family-style, which was always a fun element at a tasting dinner. It was fresh, herbaceous and perfectly satisfying.
Camel Slider with desert sauce, roasted cactus, aged provolone, pickled onions, yucca chips
Chef Fisher “warned” the crowd that there would be camel as a way to show his adventurous side, which reveals itself often at Kau, as Fisher loves to work with wild game and interesting proteins. The camel was definitely interesting. He described it as a “beefy beef,” and that description was spot on. The desert sauce is made from cactus leaves and the aged provolone was meant to cut through any gaminess that might be lingering in the meat. This is the kind of adventurous and remarkable dish one should look out for when dining at Kau.
Butcher’s Duo: Steak tartare with capers, grainy mustard, and a Mini-New York Strip with bone marrow butter, smoked sea salt
While the more wild and bold of the proteins floats Fisher’s boat as much as anything to his core, he calls himself “a cowboy.” Although he likes to “chef it up,” nothing quite compares to a great steak, excellently prepared. The Butcher’s Duo showed what Kau does best. The tartare was incredibly fresh with bright acidity. There were no bells and whistles for the strip, and none were needed.
Apple Cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse
Getting a bit full at this point, most of us were pleased that it was a mere bite of cheesecake, which was marvelous and laden with chunks of cinnamon apples. The mousse was a chocolate lover’s dream and the guests enjoyed chunks of homemade brownie on top.
Fisher said with Kau, he’s trying to bring back a feeling from when the mill was vibrant. “I am re-introducing simplicity with the highest quality products that we cut, grind, stuff and smoke in-house. I have a marriage of a neighborhood tavern with the classic American steakhouse.”
Kay Rogers, who traveled from Winston-Salem, summed it up nicely. “A great, wonderful menu in a memorable location.”
For a more in-depth interview with Kayne Fisher, listen to my podcast, “At the Table with Triadfoodies,” on the Triad Podcast Network.
Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.
Kau Restaurant Butcher and Bar is located at 2003 Yanceyville St. in Greensboro.