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New restaurant in Milton aims to create sense of home, artistry

Posted by Natalie Feulner  February 21, 2012 09:42 AM

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As owner and chef at the newest restaurant in Milton, Suzanne Lombardi wants to set a precedent of serving good, locally grown, home-cooked food.

The Plate -- set in a small, bright green building on Central Avenue steps from the trolley stop -- is set to open in early March, and Lombardi and her crew are putting on the final touches and testing recipes.

“The neighborhood is really excited for us to open, and we’re excited too,” Lombardi said in a recent interview.

The Plate is a little less than 800 square feet and will have an open kitchen where Lombardi hopes customers will feel free to watch the food being prepared and ask questions.

“We wanted to have a space where people could see us cooking, smell whatever soup is on, and feel at home,” she said.

The menu being finalized will be predominately produce-based and include a few of her family favorites, such as daughter Ruby’s grilled nutella and banana sandwich.

Lombardi’s team is a tight-knit group, working together on every detail from the font on the menu to recipes for spring. They have titles such as “retail operations artist” and “dish support” rather than traditional names such as “dishwasher.”

“The Plate should really feel like a community of artists, and our titles help create that sense,” said Tina Biedronski, who serves as director of operations, head baker, and accountant.

The two-room cafe is white with bright green accents and rows of plates sitting on shelves behind the cash registers. Each plate will tell customers of specials of the day and information about rotating menu items.

Since Lombardi will be using all locally grown ingredients, her menu will change with the seasons and after feedback during the first few months, she said.

“I’m a foodie at heart and I’m always looking out for interesting ingredients, so I know the menu will change,” she said.

Lombardi previously owned and operated her own baking company -- Dancing Deer and later Tiny Trapeze Confections, which was eventually bought by Whole Foods Market.

Since then, she said she’s searched for the perfect place to open a restaurant of her own and reconnect with the art of creating food and the satisfaction of reaching out to customers.

“Some people ask me if I’ll miss the 9-5 of my previous work and I may, but what I was missing there was a true connection with the people who were enjoying my food,” Lombardi said.

Plus, she’s returned to Milton where she grew up and is embedded in a historic area she says is absolutely perfect.

“I wanted to be in a neighborhood, I love the age of this building, and I loved the idea of recreating the space into something that will remain rooted in this community,” she said.

Lombardi is hesitant to set an exact date for her restaurant's opening because she says she wants everything to be just right before the first person walks in the door. She’s finishing the last of the inspections with the town and culling a few final recipes.

“I hope that the vibe here really lives up to the expectations of the people who have come in already and allows us to morph and do great things,” she said.

Natalie Feulner can be reached at natalie.feulner@gmail.com.

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