Photos by Mateo Montoya and Jonathan Patrick

A Street Soul, Fine and Fried

By Jonathan Patrick

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Jonathan Brennan can be a tough dude to track down. If he's not firing, slicing, smoking, sauteing, or braising, you might find him at the Haints' shop turning a wrench. Or you might not. That's because these two pseudo stationary moments are about as still as this guy gets, being known to skid from Birmingham to Long Beach, from Milwaukee to Colorado, on cross country rides in search of sights to behold and Ma and Pa spots worth adding to his bestiary. He and the caravan are, in his own words, "broke ass foodies, more or less."

With his mother's side of the tree being firmly rooted in Southern tradition and his father hailing from New England, Brennan was bred into what may arguably be the two most essential, ubiquitous, and regionally bickered about s-words of food: soul and sea. Whether the all-too-talked-about (but never over-hyped, because even after eating a godless number, I can to this day revisit an elote sans elote with minimal guilt) all beef, buttermilk battered, guajillo graced street corn dog or a humble lobster roll (for those unfamiliar, this is a New England specialty, showcasing butter smothered lump lobster meat), bold flavors are to be found in Brennan's history, on his mind, and in his kitchen.

By interest or by fate, Brennan found himself at George Reis' 26, and subsequently Ocean, where he spent 3 years earning his stripes in the realm of fine dining. This is where his very apparent understanding of presentation, aromatics, and technique were established, or in his summary, "getting as much flavor out of each ingredient." When asked what, aside from the rudiments, stuck from his experience in finer foods: "Having respect for food and wanting it to be a great creation after putting your work into it."

Alas, every story has its chapters and every chapter has its close. After spending time as the Executive Chef at Ore Drink and Dine (of which Taylor Hicks was a partial owner), published recipes, and T.V. appearances, Brennan realized, as far as the vessel of haute cuisine was concerned, he was a stowaway. Seeing a sharp trend in mid/high end restaurants and bars, Jonathan paired up with the folks at Carrigan's Public House and the rest is history. Relevant, ongoing, delicious history.

He wanted to cook something "...immediately relatable. You don't want your customer to turn and say, 'What the hell is that? And it costs $20??'" Think Street Sharks meets Anthony Bourdain with a grandé mustache. On motorcycles. Such a T.V. dream was soon realized. It is here at Carrigan's that Jonathan has made, this time without the help of Taylor Hicks and a PR agent, a promising reputation for himself and his street-sea-soul fusion.

What sets Carrigan's cuisine apart from anything else around is its surprisingly affordable price range paired with Jonathan's attention to detail and his respect for each ingredient's expression in a dish. Simpler, more street or "home", ingredients are founded in exemplary oxtail and pork cheek stocks, smoked, braised with herbs and spices. And, as un-soul, as un-biker stache as it may seem, the Vegetarian, the Vegan, do not abandon hope, ye who enter here. Brennan's palate for the sea snips a special flower from Poseidon's garden, substituting Nori seaweed in the Caesar dressing where anchovies would typically find a place. The falafel sandwich is a true marriage of the South and the Mediterranean, and if tzatziki's not an option, for those more deeply conscious of the treatment of our fellow animals, the boys in the back'll gladly substitute an avocado.

Now, I could go on about street food, soul food, sea food, etc, for longer than anyone here would be in to, so we'll leave you guys with some pictures instead. Whatever you call him, Jonathan, Brennan, Stache, J-Body, go see the damn man at Carrigan's Public House.

Get Fed.

Kung Fu Wings sweet and spicy chili sauce, crushed peanuts, ginger lime cream

Street Style Corn Dog cornmeal/buttermilk battered all beef frank on a bed of hand cut, twice fried potatoes topped with sriracha ranch, guajillo pepper ketchup, cotija and cilantro

Dalai Lamba Melt house ground curried lamb, gouda, tempura red onion, feta pesto, roasted garlic aioli

Pork Cheek Sliders slow braised pork cheek, apple-cabbage slaw, jalapeno, roasted garlic aioli