Chef Bradford Barker had been searching for 10 years for just the right spot to open his own Rutland eatery, harboring a vision of casual, farm-fresh food cooked simply yet creatively.
So, while the menu at Kelvans Restaurant, which opened last week, may look simple, a lot of thought has gone into the fare. “You’re not going to see too many things out of the ordinary, but they’ll be done in a respect-for-the-ingredients way,” says Barker. For instance, he takes fried calamari and tosses it in fresh basil, Vermont goat cheese and a garlic-white wine sauce; he coats sesame chicken in both black and white sesame seeds and serves it with hoisin sauce. Barker also cooks up fresh fish cakes, salads, wraps, burgers, and specials such as red beans and rice; and pecan-crusted salmon with fresh corn and cherry-tomato salsa.
Barker trained at the California Culinary Academy and has worked at restaurants both in that state and in Vermont. He’d been cooking at the Rutland Country Club for six years when he got a phone call from Patty Sabotka, the former owner of Tapas Restaurant & Tavern, who asked if he was interested in moving into the space she was vacating. He was.
Barker and his wife, Katherine, combined the names of their children, Evan and Kelsey, for the eatery’s moniker; they also hung some of Evan’s artwork on the walls. Barker cooks to order for the kids who come into his restaurant. For adults, Kelvans has a full bar and 25 wines by the glass.
Barker shops at the Rutland Farmers Market on Saturdays and whips up his finds into specials. “It’s part of the fun and challenge of living in Vermont that you have to change the menu seasonally,” he says. “I’ll change my menu often — it keeps me from getting bored.”