There might be other charcuterie bars around, but the newest one in Waterloo Region that opened earlier this month in St. Jacobs is designed to set itself apart.
“What we’ve been really trying to broadcast to people is the theater, which we’re putting back into the bar,” said Nick Benninger, head chef and co-owner of the Fat Sparrow Group.
The new spot located inside Fat Sparrow Block, in the former Stone Crock restaurant on King Street, has a display fridge inside the front window.
“When you’re walking by on the street, you’ll see logs of meat, beautiful wheels of cheese and everything in here drawing people in from the outside… Like a work of art,” said Benninger.
“When you order a charcuterie platter, you’ll see your server come over here, open the door, drop down whatever you’ve ordered and slice it.”
The charcuterie bar is part of a newly renovated 5,000-square-foot space, which now includes a “marketplace” grocery store (connected with the Jacob’s Grill restaurant and Stone Crock Bakery) as well as a butcher shop.
“So the concept is that if you’re in the charcuterie bar, you see the butcher shop and the folks working with the raw products, and you also see the servers over here handling the finished product — so that full story of where the food comes from,” Benniger said.
The entire space including the store, butcher and bar is still licensed for liquor, with the fireplace and mantle from the former restaurant still intact.
You can raise your elbow as you shop. A new wall of bottles separates the store from the bar, with a raft of craft beer and wine featuring both local and international labels, many which you won’t find anywhere else, Benninger says.
“We actually hope to have the entire space looked at as an event space,” he said, so if you want to have a cocktail reception or Christmas party just in the bar, which also connects to an outdoor patio, you certainly could.
“We’ll have a dry aging program,” Benninger added. “We’ll be doing events like steak tasting events and featuring cuts of beef that you don’t often get a chance to try. So we plan to utilize the space and flex as much as we can get creative with it.”
“It’s a charcuterie bar that we think is going to show you a unique taste you can’t get anywhere else in the world,” Benninger promises. “You might get another experience like it in Germany or Japan or somewhere, but it would be unique to their region, whereas this will speak to our region really well.”
Spencer Vella will play a significant role in the new operation — a culmination of his experience as a chef turned butcher.
“To have an opportunity to make charcuterie, pâtés, liverwurst ‘smears’ as Nick likes to say, all from scratch, from local farms we know and trust, in the same place we sell them and serve them is a chef’s dream,” stated Vella in a press release.
“Fat Sparrow is a family affair,” it says, with husband-and-wife team Nick and Nat running the face of the operation and Nick’s brother Joe as president.
“We have created a fine-food emporium specializing in gourmet goods, artisanal specialty products and Waterloo Region’s finest prepared fare,” notes Joe Benninger. “Our butchers will cut your meat to order, and our chefs will share cooking advice, help you select the best cheese and wine, and top off your grocery basket with a Stone Crock Bakery apple pie.”
Reservations aren’t required but are recommended. A grand opening originally planned for Thursday, Oct. 27, is being rescheduled.
Address: 1396 King St N, St. Jacobs