Each Friday in February, the Traveling Bistro Pop-Up Restaurant will serve an upscale dinner with limited seating in Spearfish.
A trained chef will offer a single set menu from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Level Wine Bar, 604 N. Main St. Food will be served on a first-come, first-serve basis. Prices will range from $22.50 to $25 per set meal.
The bistro is being organized by Monet Vermette, who — along with her husband, Jared DeGraaf, and mother-in-law Sabrina Heredia —run Elite Events, a catering, event planning, and sommelier service.
“I’ve always liked cooking,” DeGraaf said. “In my family, food is generational.”
DeGraaf grew up in Southern California, where meals were made with family recipes passed down from his Mexican grandmothers. After graduating from culinary school, DeGraaf set out to blend his love and passion for food.
“We visited other states and enjoyed different types of foods, and then read about all these ‘pop-up’ restaurants in big cities, and decided we should do that here in the Black Hills,” DeGraaf said.
Pop-Ups are a popular dining experience in London, New York, and Los Angeles. “We want to make the foods we like to make and eat, and share that with our community, and bring a little more flavor to the Black Hills," DeGraaf added.
DeGraaf created a different menu for each evening, with main dish offerings such as Beef Bourguignon over Buttered Campanelle Noodles, or Crow Peak Stout Braised Short Ribs, and sides like Roman Mustard Green Beans and Hasselback Garlic Butter Potatoes.
Wine is not included in the plate price, but pairing recommendations and selections will be offered by Heredia, implementing her sommelier experience and knowledge.
“I’m fascinated by the idea of incorporating the flavors of wine into meals,” she said. “In Italy and France, wine is actually considered a food.”
She describes the Traveling Bistro menu as “classic, simple and rustic,” with “very fresh and deep flavors dear to our hearts.”
DeGraaf looks for ingredients that are as local and fresh as possible. “It’s a little hard in winter to get a wide variety, but we have selected from Cycle Farms, Gage’s Gardens, Black Hills Milk, the Butcher Shop, and other small, local producers,” he said.
He plans to raise chickens and use produce from his own garden to supplement future events. DeGraaf's passion for the Traveling Bistro doesn’t stop with flavor.
“There is so much waste in the restaurant industry. In order to anticipate orders, there has to be so much food prepared each night, and a lot of it is wasted at closing,” he said. “With our pop-up restaurant, I hope to be able to give consumers a sense of appreciation for their meal, knowing that just enough was prepared for them.”
Traveling Bistro also offers authentic Mexican street food Thursdays and Sundays at False Bottom Bar in Spearfish. For more information, visit eliteservices-llc.com or message them on Facebook at elite.events.llc.bh.