The Weather Vane in Cedar Rapids pays tribute to family recipes

Restaurant at former Beef O'Brady's site offers simple food, with a twist

Chocolate Maple BBQ wings and a Mammoth Barrel Stout at The Weather Vane in Cedar Rapids on Monday, January 8, 2018. Available sauces for the wings include Curry Yellow Mustard, Ginger Teriyaki, Smoky Hot Pepper, Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Chili and Sweet Onion BBQ. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Chocolate Maple BBQ wings and a Mammoth Barrel Stout at The Weather Vane in Cedar Rapids on Monday, January 8, 2018. Available sauces for the wings include Curry Yellow Mustard, Ginger Teriyaki, Smoky Hot Pepper, Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Chili and Sweet Onion BBQ. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Nate Marsceau wants his new restaurant The Weather Vane to be more than just a business. He wants it to carry on family recipes and family history.

He got into the restaurant business in 2005 helping his family run Brewed Awakenings. His parents Richard and Nancy Marsceau owned the First Avenue coffee shop for years, as well as other coffee shop locations.

“One of my goals is to continue that legacy,” he Marsceau said. “I can’t think of a more cool way to pay tribute to my family.”

For the last four years, he has run the Linge Lounge cafe inside Theatre Cedar Rapids, and that’s where his passion for cooking crystallized, as he developed menu items and hosted beer and wine pairing events.

“That really springboarded this. The more I did, the more I learned,” he said.

Family and friends encouraged him to open his own place, and in November he finalized the deal to take over the former Beef ‘O’Brady’s location in The Fountains area on Edgewood Road NE. He and his girlfriend Kate Swenson opened The Weather Vane unofficially last week with a partial menu. The full menu will be available with the official grand opening tomorrow (1/12).

They hope to add weekend breakfasts in the future, as well as special events, such as pairing dinners, live music and beer tastings.

The restaurant is named for the weather vane on the house his grandparents Dean and Hazel French bought in Troy Mills decades ago, where Marsceau now lives on about 30 acres of land along the Wapsi River. Photos from the property adorn the restaurant walls.

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“My mom and two grandmas were awesome cooks. I learned a lot from them,” he said. “The thing that I really enjoy is sharing the legacy of my family in this. It embodies everything we want to do here, which is simple food done with a twist.”

That twist is often in the details; the sauces that dress the chicken wings, for example, are made in house and include choices like chocolate maple barbecue, curry yellow mustard, ginger teriyaki and sweet and spicy Sriracha chili.

“I love to infuse sauces with beer or wine or spirits,” Marsceau said. “When people ask me where I got my enjoyment of cooking, where it really started for me was making salsa, the mixing and matching of flavors.”

Some popular items from Brewed Awakenings also will be on the menu, such as his mother’s curried chicken salad and tuna salad sandwiches. His grandmother’s recipe for biscuits and gravy will be on the planned breakfast menu.

Though people have asked if he’ll incorporate any the Brewed Awakenings specialty coffee drinks, he isn’t planning to for now. Instead, the beverage menu focuses on a lineup of Iowa beers on tap and a full slate of specialty cocktails.

The menu features pub food favorites like deep fried pickle chips, burgers and sandwiches. The twists show up in things like the batter for the pickle chips, made with Nacho Cheese Dorito panko, or the toppings on the burgers, like the Blueberry Bleu Cheese Jalapeno Burger.

“We’re serving the foods I always enjoy,” Marsceau said.

All burgers come with a gluten-free bun option, with other gluten-free options throughout the menu. That’s important to Marsceau, because his son Teagan cannot have gluten or dairy, which opened Marsceau’s eyes to the difficulties of dining out with diet restrictions. Every item on the kid’s menu is gluten free or has a gluten free option.

He sources beef from Doty Farms in Montezuma, pork from Rehberg’s Pork & Shrimp in Walker and plans to work with a local farmers for organic produce in the spring.

“We want to highlight all things Iowa,” he said.

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Swenson said she likes watching customers have a good time, and that’s her goal for The Weather Vane.

“We have quite a bit of local flavor here. I want people to have fun and enjoy the experience,” she said.

Though most of the menu came from Marsceau, she did contribute one dish, mango-encrusted salmon, which will be a weekend dinner special all month.

“We have a passion for cooking together,” Swenson said. “When he wanted to do this, I said, ‘Why not? Let’s start a new adventure.’”

EAT UP!

What: The Weather Vane

Where: 5240 Edgewood Road NE, Cedar Rapids

When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday

Details: (319) 294-4992

l Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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