In discussing his new menu at Jack's in Kingfield, executive chef Kevin Kathman eschews several labels. "The term 'New American' really conjures up the '80s for me, and even though the portions are smaller, calling our plates 'tapas' would only stick us in the '90s. We do apply some modern techniques, but I wouldn't use 'molecular gastronomy' to describe any of them," Kathman explains, somehow managing to say such things and yet be totally devoid of condescension. I admit, I expected at least a hint of affectation, considering Kathman worked under Thomas Keller at the three-Michelin-star French Laundry, a restaurant that Anthony Bourdain once called "the best restaurant in the world, period." Though that auspicious internship launched an impressive culinary career for this Cold Spring, Minnesota, native, Kathman remains acutely aware that any success he has at Jack's is shared. He mentions his kitchen team several times during our conversation, describing the collaborative process for every dish they develop and calling his collective "a creative think tank." The results of this team effort are balanced, sculptural dishes that urge you to take your time in enjoying them. Best of all, considering the quality, ingenuity, and presentation, they're priced in a way that allows you to... More >>>