IT’S AN INTIMATE, STYLISH RESTAURANT WITH EXCEPTIONAL FOOD, warm and attentive service, and seductive cocktails. Although it has a focus on North Country cuisine, the surprising menu with its unique pairings of flavors offers dishes that are familiar and delicious, yet innovative and unexpectedly delightful. This upbeat, relaxing eatery—Twisted Carrot—tucked into 82 Margaret Street in downtown Plattsburgh, is a labor of love by a trio of millennials: Chris Winkler, Laura Cochran and Bevan Gertsch- Cochran. Eggplant caponata, seared scallops, vegetable skewers, quinoa salad, schnitzel, carrot risotto, moo moo dippers (a twist on an egg roll). Add a craft beer, local rosé, or an expertly mixed cocktail (Lemon Lavender Margarita anyone?) and the perfection is real. “We always knew we wanted to own our own restaurant,” said Bevan. “Chris and I grew up next to each other on Elizabeth Street. We know Plattsburgh food culture, and wanted to work within it, and also extend it.”
“We’ve known each other for thirty years,” added Chris. “Bevan and I traveled cross-country a few times and we could have settled anywhere. We came back here because the air smells sweeter, and, through our travels, we learned the value of this place.”
“We just kind of jumped on this as soon as the space became available,” said Laura. “Bevan and I met in the restaurant business, and with Chris, we made the spontaneous decision to create our own menu, and work together to create something truly unique.”
Who Does What?
Bevan and Chris work together to create the menu and the daily specials. In terms of their culinary backgrounds, Bevan trained at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York and specializes in French-style cuisine. Chris learned the art of Sicilian cooking from his mother and grandmother who taught him how to make pasta and bread. He also earned a degree in Culinary Arts from SUNY Delhi. He makes the bread and rolls each day and also works with pastry chef Aubrey O’Hagan on the made-on-the-premises desserts. In addition, he also teaches Culinary Arts at CV- TEC.
With her many years of experience in restaurants, Laura invents the cocktails/mocktails, keeps the books and does the “back-end” communication.
The Twisted Carrot menu changes seasonally, three – four times a year, and the specials consist of the chefs’ inspiration and availability of ingredients. The trio works closely with local farms, breweries, vineyards, and cheesemakers to keep things fresh and include North Country flavors. Relying on extensive research, Laura regularly changes the cocktail menu by using different liqueurs as a “base” for new drinks, and “plays around with them” until she comes up with concoctions the customers love.
“There are quite a few chefs around here trying to do original things,” said Bevan. “We are excited to be part of this movement and to use locally sourced ingredients.”
What’s in a Name
How does one come up with a name like Twisted Carrot? Bevan explained that one day, years ago, he was working at the Fledging Crow farm in Keeseville, and he pulled up a carrot that was twisted like a corkscrew. “I immediately thought ‘Twisted Carrot’ – what a perfect name for a restaurant! Years later when we opened this place, my father made the sign and he and my mom designed the logo.” One can be sure there is no other restaurant with that name.
Speaking of parents, all six of them (Jeff and Mary Cochran, Nina and Mike Aitner, and Rosemary and Robert Winkler) itched in to help launch the restaurant. Once the space became available early in 2018, the group spent nine months gutting and renovating, making tables and booths, and setting up the bar, kitchen and walk-in area. Laura did the interior decorating. They opened for business in October 2018. The Twisted Carrot currently employ 14 people, and, owing to a positive vibe and good management, there has been very little turnover — unusual for a restaurant.
Not only is the menu creative, it consists of locally sourced, fresh, varied, and healthy food. There are offerings for every palate and dietary requirement. Pork, lamb, and eggs are from nearby farms as are the vegetables and cheeses. There are vegan and gluten-free options. Bread, rolls, and pastries are made on premises.
The lunch menu is geared for the regular patrons who come in every day for their favorite sandwiches and salads. However, in the evening, when people come in for a dining experience, the dinner choices are intriguing, the ambiance is inviting and the plates are well presented.
The menu, written by Laura, is as fun to read as it is descriptive. “Little Devils” (deviled eggs), “Have a Cow” and “Don’t Have a Cow” (a beef burger vs. a zucchini and chickpea burger), and “Cast-Ironed Seared Bone-in Ribeye” are just a few selections. Under desserts, “Warm Lemon-Blueberry Upside Cake” or a “Birchin’ Float Boozy Treat” are just two attractively named taste sensations. “The specials are a kind of favorite thing,” said Winkler. “The dishes consist of what we really enjoy making.”
“We try to design a menu so everything is fresh and there is no waste,” Bevan disclosed.
Like every restaurant last year, Twisted Carrot had to close for a few months. Taking the pandemic in stride, the trio used the time to redesign the interior of the restaurant so that social distancing could be maintained. They also set up four tables for outside dining, and instituted a takeout system. Masks, of course, were required unless patrons are at their tables eating.
Entering the Summer of 2021
“We’ve known each other for so long, and communicate so well,” said Winkler, “it would take a lot to destroy this relationship.” Added Bevan, “We work a lot together, and we’ve been able to successfully combine our personal relationship with business.” In terms of their community involvement, Laura rarely refuses any charitable request, and they’re close with the other restaurants in the community. Talent, energy, open-mindedness, cooperation, and a passion for what they do have resulted in a definite enhancement to downtown Plattsburgh.
Their personal brand?
82 Margaret Street
Plattsburgh NY 12901
FB: Twisted Carrot