At Dakota Brick House, Chef Jim Waters and Team Aren't Holding Anything Back

Last Updated by Michael Zimny on
Chef Jim prepares to pull a wood-fired pretzel from the oven.

Chef Jim Waters has crossed the street — downtown Vermillion’s Main Street that is. The co-owner of local institution Café Brulé and his corps of culinary discovery are inventing what a Vermillion tap house looks and tastes like on the fly at Dakota Brick House, which opened in February. 

“We always kidded that we turned away enough customers [at Café Brulé] that we could open another restaurant. We were always envious of the outdoor seating here, and being that it’s a beautiful historic building, we thought let’s do something over there that’s different. Our goal has always been to do whatever we can to make downtown Vermillion a destination.”

The new joint is a gastropub concept with “good beer, good wine and kicked up bar food,” a place where people might grab a quick bite or knock back a few and stay awhile. The kegs are tapped. The menu is a work in progress. 

The kitchen is serving apps like a trio of street tacos, a South Dakota poutine with fried cheese curds and a stout beer onion gravy, and a giant, wood-fired, golden, buttery-soft pretzel with a complement of sauces. Wood-fired pizzas are coming soon.
  
Much of the fare will be cooked in their custom, copper-wrapped Wood-Stone oven that combines wood fire for flavor with gas-fuel for a consistent flame. Chef Jim has much of the menu planned but is open to letting serendipity intervene. “I’m always learning. I try to hire people that have some knowledge but that can bring something new, that will say, ‘Hey Chef, can we try this?’ Ya, let’s give it a try, see what happens.”

Waters and business partner Monica Iverson, who runs Cakes by Monica at Café Brulé, took care to preserve historic details at the new place, which occupies a building built in 1880 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While de-stuccoing an interior (formerly exterior) brick wall, Waters discovered a pristinely-preserved 19th century mural for SpearHead chewing tobacco from. “It’s a pretty awesome find,” he says. 

They also did downtown Vermillion a solid by restoring and painting the picturesque oriel windows on the second floor, utilizing reclaimed cedar from the local saw mill. “We changed colors like three times,” says Waters. “Monica has the artistic eye. She was up there on the lift, doing a lot of the painting herself.”

While renovating, Chef Jim uncovered a 19th century mural for SpearHead brand chewing tobacco.While renovating, Chef Jim uncovered a 19th century mural for SpearHead brand chewing tobacco.

Inside, they restored original wood flooring where it existed and found reclaimed wood to match where there was none. They found interesting light fixtures and built some themselves. “We’re very hands on and detail-oriented.”

General manager Josh Scherrer built a copper tap system for the bar. The team scoured regional antique stores for accents like stained glass and solid wood doors. They picked up an upright piano at the USD auction. "It's in great tune." Combined, the various elements foster a comfortable ambience that’s both earthy and industrial. With Dakota Brick House, the Café Brulé team has taken what was a void at the heart of Main Street and transformed it into a community polestar enlivening downtown Vermillion.    

Out in the sunshine, the patio will be open when the weather warms up, and they plan to have music or entertainment some evenings. 

If you’re more in need of a pick-me-up than a beer, the team — as if they didn’t have enough on their plate — are opening BRU2, a coffee house and drive thru on Cherry Street, in the next few weeks. 

subscribe to sdpb email updates food blog link image learning blog link image living blog link news and information blog link science and technology blog link sports blog link image

Related content from SDPB Radio - Art

The Enduring Simplicity (And Complexity) Of Michael Hall

In The Moment ... September 20. 2018 Show 426 Hour 2 Michael Hall writes picture books that delight and endure. He's...

Art That Takes You Home

In The Moment ... July 18, 2018 Show 381 Hour 2 Jon Crane creates "Art that Takes You Home." After a tour at...

Renowned Artists Visit Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute

In The Moment ... June 19, 2018 Show 361 Hour 2 Art can be meditation, expression, activism, and escape. It can also...

Eagle Butte Artists Learn Tips To Flourish

Artists who turn their passion into a business venture can find it a challenge. They need to figure out the details...

Books

The Multiple Hearts Of Laura Geringer Bass

In The Moment ... September 20. 2018 Show 426 Hour 2 When 13 year-old Briana's dad dies suddenly, she is faced with...

Read, Baby, Read: What's America's Best-Loved Novel?

In The Moment ... May 22, 2018 Show 342 Hour 1 What's America's best-loved novel? You get to decide. PBS launches...

Author Kirk Wallace Johnson's "The Feather Thief"

In the Moment ... May 1, 2018 Show 327 Hour 1 The centuries-old art of salmon fishing fly-tying has a dark side. It...

Jane Yolen Celebrates #Yolen365 And Counting

In The Moment ... April 26, 2018 Show 324 Hour 1 In March, author Jane Yolen released her 365th book. That means you...

Music

Matthews Opera House Season Preview

In The Moment ... September 26. 2018 Show 430 Hour 2 The Matthews Opera House subscription concert series begins...

Fun Approach To Music Theory

Andrew Rogers – in home music lessons designed for children and young adults. Uses a unique teaching style that...

The Literary Style of Reina del Cid

Reina del Cid kicks off her summer tour with a stop in Sioux Falls at the Icon Lounge. She joins SDPB's Lori Walsh...

Eric Johnson Returns For Black Hills Playhouse Opener

In The Moment ... May 29, 2018 Show 346 Hour 2 Leave the ordinary behind at this year's Black Hills Playhouse Season...

Theater

Broadway Choreographer Chet Walker

In the Moment ... April 9, 2018 Show 311 Hour 1 The University of South Dakota Theater Department presents "Cabaret"...

Images of the Past: Stage To Screen

In The Moment ... November 27, 2017 Show 227 Hour 2 A new exhibit at the Old Courthouse Museum tells the story of...

Personalities: From Huron High to Broadway

Singer, actor, and teacher Joseph Mahowald graduated from Huron High School in 1977. He went on to study music and...

In The Moment ... Alex Meyer's Scenic Design

In The Moment ... May 10, 2017 Show 090 Hour 2 Alex Meyer. He's a junior art and theater major at Augustana College...