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Tight-Knit and Twisted

Story by Sage Lewandowski Photos by Andrew Villalobos A jungle’s worth of potted palm plants enshrouds the entrance to Plattsburgh’s newest eco-friendly eatery: Twisted Carrot. A crystal quartz the size of a watermelon lies cozily in a nook cut high in the brick wall beyond this foyer forest. Patrons’ rosy faces reflect off the black walnut bar which glistens in the warm lighting. Here, food and ambience are happily married. Owners Chris Winkler and Bevan and Laura Cochran have known each other for years. In fact, Chris and Bevan grew up as neighbors in South Plattsburgh. They share a passion…

Story by Sage Lewandowski

Photos by Andrew Villalobos

A jungle’s worth of potted palm plants enshrouds the entrance to Plattsburgh’s newest eco-friendly eatery: Twisted Carrot. A crystal quartz the size of a watermelon lies cozily in a nook cut high in the brick wall beyond this foyer forest. Patrons’ rosy faces reflect off the black walnut bar which glistens in the warm lighting. Here, food and ambience are happily married.

Owners Chris Winkler and Bevan and Laura Cochran have known each other for years. In fact, Chris and Bevan grew up as neighbors in South Plattsburgh.

They share a passion for the restaurant industry in addition to at least 15 years of experience. They purchased the space for Twisted Carrot as soon as it became available.

We all sat together at our house, and we drank and talked about it and decided to do it,” Laura says. “The next day, we signed the papers.”

“And then we never slept again,” Chris chimed in.

And the owners wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s our life,” Laura says.

The three knew the small warm and inviting space for rent on Margaret Street was prime real estate for anyone looking to open a restaurant in Plattsburgh, so they jumped on it immediately.

“We looked at it on a Tuesday, and we already had a check in hand by Friday,” Bevan remembers.

Working with family and friends, the trio transformed Twisted Carrot from the farmhouse, country-style of the former restaurant into something all their own. The booths and benches were handmade by Bevan and Chris; they even hand-selected the pine that was used. Laura’s framed photography of her chickens and home garden decorates the walls. Muted blue, yellow and purple ceramic mugs made by Bevan’s sister fills shelves on the back wall.

The restaurant itself is named after a gnarly, curly carrot plucked from the earth of the organic farm Fledging Crow in Keeseville, New York. A photo of the carrot that started it all hangs above a booth in the restaurant. It also inspired the hand-painted sign above the eatery.

Their diverse menu features everything from from buttermilk fried rabbit to cast iron seared Atlantic salmon, fried eggplant caponata and  ucchini cakes. When weather permits, dishes receive a dose of locally sourced produce from Fledging Crow. Guests with a sweet tooth can try the carrot cake trifle with maple cream cheese frosting or McIntosh apple crisp served with buttermilk ice cream.

The bevy of signature cocktails includes spiced pear bourbon, twisted sangria and more which add bite to the savory menu. The restaurant’s wide selection of beer is provided by the local Craft Beer Guild.

It’s easy to tell that chefs Bevan and Chris know their way around a kitchen. Chris studied in the culinary program at SUNY Delhi while Bevan attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and is currently an instructor in the culinary program at
Champlain Valley Technical School. The friends have also managed kitchens in various  plattsburgh restaurants from The Pepper to the former Mangia’s.

Laura runs the front of the house and according to the boys is “the brains” of the operation. She oversees the small wait staff who, according to the owners, is incredibly skilled and connected. The team of five servers and bartenders are all local and have experience from various other establishments in the Plattsburgh area.

Because the owners are “micro-focused” on their new business endeavor, Twisted Carrot is not the place for weak links.

“It’s such a small staff that if you have one person that doesn’t really mold with everyone else, it could be bad,” Chris says.

Twisted Carrot is infused with the work of many local businesses and artisans. The black walnut bar was handcrafted by Thomas McNichols, owner of The Wood Lab, which is located in Keeseville. The menus were printed by Plattsburgh-based In Tandem Productions.

“When we say local, we don’t necessarily just mean food,” Bevan says. “We mean supporting businesses around us that are local.”

Laura is a member of the Plattsburgh Sustainability Committee and extends the principles of the group to Twisted Carrot. Take-out boxes,  silverware and paper products are made from biodegradable plastic and paper. Straws are only given out with drinks upon request.

It’s been less than a year, and of course Bevan, Laura and Chris are still in the brainstorming process. Outdoor dining and catering services are just a few things they hope to add to their eatery. Twisted Carrot is a natural and earthy dining destination that feels like home. The owners have created a funky and sustainable dining experience that meshes creative components of the community and brings a fresh taste to downtown Plattsburgh.

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