After parting company with his brother Spike (they co-owned Spike & Charlie’s and The Atlantic), Charlie Gjerde went on to open Alexander’s Tavern and Papi’s Tacos in Fells Point and, most recently, Huck’s American Craft, which took over the former Elliott’s Pour House in Brewers Hill. The team—Gjerde and his wife Lori, along with her sister Carrie Podles and chef Faith Paulick—consider theirs a family business, and participate in con-versation as if speaking in one voice. Plans are in the works to open Wicked Sisters Tavern (named for Carrie and Lori) over the next few months in Hampden’s long-standing McCabe’s space.
Concept. The team was originally seek-ing a location for a second Papi’s, but when their broker pointed out the Brew-ers Hill space, they felt it was better suited to something else. “We came up with this craft concept, highlighting foods people have grown up with around the country. Things that are popular in North Dakota or Texas or Maine,” says Charlie. The idea, he says, “is you either try ’em for the first time, or you step back to your childhood.” The name surfaced after they’d been batting around the idea of a Thanksgiving sandwich with cranberry mayo. “I said, ‘I’ve seen that a million times,’” says Faith. She suggested huckleberry aioli and the idea took hold. A college English major, Faith loved naming the restaurant after America’s literary bad boy, Huck Finn.
Chef. Faith went to Washington College thinking she’d be a teacher. Eastern Shore restaurant jobs—to pay her way through school—led to gigs like working for Dave Newman (now of Blue Pit BBQ) at Brewer’s Art. When she was hired to open Papi’s, she says, “I became obsessed with Mexican food and culture. I started shop-ping at Latino grocery stores, watching Spanish TV, reading books in Spanish.” Charlie remembers with a laugh: “One Monday she came in and was fluent in Spanish.”
Food. Huck’s offers chewy New York-style pretzels with a variety of dipping sauces (classic mustard, sugary frosting) for bar noshing. They opened in midsummer with a limited menu that included charcuterie and cheese plates, as well as a “garbage plate” with pulled pork heaped on root vegetable chips. Look for a Minnesota-style “juicy lucy” burger with cheese baked inside the patty, Texas Frito pie, an upscale version of a Philly cheesesteak and a fun carnival-style fried corndog.
Drink. The bar will serve only American-sourced libations, many of them from craft brewers and distillers. For a little extra inspiration, some team members recently spent three days on the Kentucky bourbon trail. “We got a sense of the cul-ture down there,” says Charlie. “You haven’t tasted bourbon until you drink it in a rickhouse surrounded by hundreds of barrels,” adds Faith. A house specialty is a bourbon-based huckleberry crush on crushed ice.
HUCK’S AMERICAN CRAFT
3728 Hudson St.