The tiki hut appeared at 3605 Broadway last Wednesday. It arrived fully formed with shingles painted brown and Voodoo masks from Africa and Asia adorning the walls. It came equipped with a silver-wrapped bar and pendant lights that hypnotically bounce from purple to green to orange.
Foodoo, the new restaurant and juice bar in the former Mr. Good Chicken space, is hoping to lure in the Valentine neighborhood with elixirs and tonics and vegan fare.
“We know there’s a lot of stuff going on this neighborhood, but there was no vegetarian driven food,” says consulting chef Bryan Merker of Lagniappe: Nica’s Cajun Kitchen (320 Southwest Boulevard).
Foodoo isn’t about adding character to Valentine. The 24-seat eatery is going to be a character in its own right.
“We found this interesting space, so we thought what could be do to compliment that,” Merker says. “There are shingles on the inside so we kind of wanted to give it a feel like you’re walking into a voodoo healing center.”
Merker is consulting for owners Carlos Mortera, Brian Thorne and his wife Deanna Thorn — the trio behind BBC Concepts. Merker also worked with BBC on launching The Bite, which opened in the City Market this March.
The menu [see the drinks, lunch and dinner menu here] is inspired by the food that Merker has prepared for his wife Nica, who is lactose intolerant and eats primarily a vegetarian diet.
“We’re treating tofu like you would meat. We’re seasoning it and marinating it like we would chicken or steak,” Merker says.
Lunch is sandwiches, salads and soups. The house soup is a garden goulash made with zucchini, plum tomatoes, quinoa, soy protein, sweet peas and corn. It comes topped with cinnamon sea salt pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
An industrial strength juicer means that Foodoo just has to wash its produce before they get mashed up. They have a drink list as long as their dinner menu with 16 oz. juice and smoothie options. The drinks — which Merker could see as cocktails in the future — are also available with milk (soy, almond or rice), powders (ground flax, almond powder) or bee pollen, matcha or chia seed. During their soft opening, Foodoo offered lemonades doctored with fresh blackberries and a simple syrup made with balsamic and black pepper.
“It’s endless what we can do right now. Last night, we had lemongrass juice and ginger juice for gravy. We’re taking the juice and implementing into our sauces and dressings,” says Merker.
Dinner is a mix of small plates, entrees served over semolina noodles or brown rice risotto and pizzas (they should be getting gluten-free crust in the next week).
Merker singles out the ménage – a play on a dish at his other restaurant Nica’s – as a small plate to share. It comes with three types of dip –red chili hummus, beet mouse and roasted carrot hummus – Cajun sunflower seeds, mango mint marmalade, fig relish, a green papaya salad (dressed with fresh lime, cilantro and Sambal chili) and gluten-free red pepper crackers.
The pizzas are akin to paninis. The dough is hand-rolled and brushed with a basil oil seasoning before being cooked in the broiler.
“I think Foodoo is for everybody,” Merker says. “The neighborhood is diverse and we just want to make good food with a lot of flavor.”
Foodoo is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is 816-673-1317.