Kaki Lima Takes Over at Wink & Nod This Spring

After Gita finishes up this week, meet Little Owl Tavern before the Indonesian favorites debut in March.
wink and nod

Wink & Nod. / Photo by Mesliaa Ostrow provided provided

UPDATE, January 25, 9:30 a.m.: Chef Retno Pratiwi “can’t wait to try out some new and exciting dishes, and to introduce Indonesian cuisine to a whole new audience,” she wrote in a Kaki Lima newsletter this morning.

“Our dream is for Indonesian restaurants to be as ubiquitous in the States as Thai or Italian restaurants. We want rendang, soto and sambal to be as commonplace as pad Thai, pho and kimchi,” added partner Peter Gelling. “The residency at Wink & Nod is the next step toward this goal. And it might be the final step before we open our permanent location in the Boston area.”

The wife-and-husband promise menu details soon, but “For now, you can follow us on social media as we again travel around the Indonesian archipelago researching the endless diversity of Indonesian cuisine, ingredients and techniques.”

PREVIOUSLY:

A culinary incubator has proven to be a fantastic business model for a local restaurant group, and the latest guest chefs slated to take over at Wink & Nod will keep it on course. Boston Nightlife Ventures will try out dishes from a forthcoming venture, Little Owl Tavern, for the next several weeks, then pop-up darlings Kaki Lima will take up residency at the South End cocktail bar on March 20.

Wink & Nod, which is one of several Boston Nightlife Ventures projects, nurtured the chefs behind Brassica Kitchen, Juliet, Doretta Taverna, and more since its debut in 2014. BNV had another hit on its hands for the past seven months with Gita, the Nepali-New England debut from private chef Gita Kantrow. Haven’t tried Kantrow’s pan-fried pork momo with tomato chutney, her braised beef short ribs with Masala fries, her chocolate cake with chai tea ganache, or the rest of her fun and flavorful fusion? Get there this week. Gita serves up its final dinners at Wink & Nod on Saturday, January 28.

On Monday, January 30, BNV chief culinary officer Bill Brodsky moves in, with the coastal Italian cuisine he’s working on for Little Owl Tavern. The team hasn’t disclosed the future location nor a timeline for it to open just yet, but Little Owl Tavern has been in development for more than a year, as Boston Restaurant Talk noted back in December 2015. (Boston Nightlife Ventures also operates the Tap Trailhouse, Southern Kin Cookhouse, and Griddler’s Burgers and Dogs, and it’s developing Akinto with another former Wink & Nod tenant, and Certified Meatball Co.)

With the Little Owl Tavern pop-up, the team is looking for feedback on Brodsky’s menu of rustic, hand-rolled pastas, Italian-style cured meats and cheeses, seafood, like charred octopus with a tomato-white bean ragout; Barolo-braised osso bucco with mushroom polenta, and other shareable plates. Check out his menu below.

And then, Boston finally has a regular chance to eat the herbaceous, bright Indonesian cuisine of Kaki Lima. Chef Retno Pratiwi and her husband, Peter Gelling, began sharing Jakarta native Pratiwi’s homestyle cooking and street fare in 2014, and ramped up with pop-ups at Tavern Road, the Honey Paw in Portland, Maine, Sway in Austin, Texas, recurring services at KO Pies at the Shipyard, and more.

The duo is the reigning Best Pop-Up in Boston, thanks to things like nourishing bowls of soto mie, spicy beef noodle soup with aromatic lemongrass and galangal; somai, shrimp dumplings in a spicy peanut sauce; and sate lilit skewers of minced chicken boldly flavored with kaffir lime, lemongrass, and coconut.

Opening Boston’s first Indonesian restaurant has long been a goal for Pratiwi and Gelling, and going by Wink & Nod’s track record, Kaki Lima is getting a solid footing to do just that.

Wink & Nod, 3 Appleton St., South End, Boston, 617-482-0117, winkandnod.com.


Jacqueline Cain Associate Food Editor at Boston Magazine jcain@bostonmagazine.com