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

Artist Deborah Mitchell: Gardens I've Known

In The Moment ... January 4, 2017 Show 249 Hour 2 It's always a delight to catch up with artist Deborah Mitchell...

Images Of The Past

In The Moment ... December 18, 2017 Show 242 Hour 2 We talk with Conor McMahon, Chief Curator, U.S. Department of...

"Loving Vincent" Comes To Sioux Falls

In The Moment ... November 29, 2017 Show 229 Hour 1 Cinema Falls brings the film "Loving Vincent" to Sioux Falls. We'...

Paul Horsted’s Epic National Parks Project

In The Moment ... November 22, 2017 Show 226 Hour 1 Paul Horsted has been making photographs for more than 35 years....

Books

SDPB's Jackie Hendry Reviews John Green's "Turtles All The Way Down"

Author John Green's tour bus rolled through South Dakota this fall. He spent time with librarians, readers, and...

Awkwardly Awesome Jason Freeman

In The Moment ... December 21, 2017 Show 245 Hour 2 Jason Freeman is the author of "Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My...

Caroline Fraser

In The Moment ... December 18, 2017 Show 242 Hour 1 The "New York Times" recently named "Prairie Fires: The American...

Marta McDowell

In The Moment ... December 18, 2017 Show 242 Hour 1 Marta McDowell looks takes a fresh look at Laura Ingalls Wilder...

Music

Moment In Sound With Brian Hoffman

In The Moment ... January 12, 2017 Show 255 Hour 1 Singer / songwriter Brian Hoffman joins us for this week's Moment...

Songs From Throughout American History With Marla Fodgerud And William Wieland

In The Moment ... January 9, 2017 Show 252 Hour 2 This Thursday at 7:30 p.m. our next guests present a lecture...

Images Of The Past: The Dubious Character Of Inez Sexton

In The Moment ... January 8, 2017 Show 251 Hour 2 This week's Images of the Past is a particularly timely look at...

Eliza Blue's December Postcard From The Prairie

In The Moment ... December 22, 2017 Show 246 Hour 1 Eliza Blue's December Postcard from the Prairie is a look...

Theater

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...

In The Moment ... Remembering Vietnam On Horseback

In The Moment ... May 9, 2017 Show 089 Hour 2 Colt Romberger’s father served in Vietnam, and it changed his life...