BY KAREN BERGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Red Wells, based in the Historical Commercial Building in Maumee, has been transformed into Dégagé Express Soups, Sandwiches & Such. Under the leadership of Chef Joseph Jacobsen and operations manager Matt Foreman, Dégagé Express will offer a “farm-to-table” experience. “I personally felt it was time to make a move to a more seasonal approach. We’ve teamed up with local farmers and growers to ensure all of our product is fresh and local. A farm-to-table concept isn’t easy, but the effort is worth it,” said executive chef Joseph Jacobsen. Buying produce from area farmers, bread from Wixey Bakery and pies from Schmucker’s not only supports the local economy but also ensures the food is at its peak of freshness, he said. The local approach also reduces the number of miles the food travels. Most items will be from within 30 miles of the River Road location. While Jacobsen’s treks to farmers’ markets will be limited during the winter, he’s currently stocking up to preserve fruits and vegetables in his characteristic creativity. While he’s using his Polish aunt’s know-how to preserve tomatoes and vegetables for use in recipes, he’s also canning delicacies such as bacon jam, garlic pickles, Bloody Mary pickles and apple butter for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In-house, Jacobsen makes his own corned beef, braised beef and Thousand Island dressing, used in sandwiches with unusual names.
The opening menu will include Missy’s Fix, made with house-cured and braised corned beef, Swiss cheese, house-made apple slaw made with locally picked apples and his Thousand Island dressing. The Dip is 13-hour slow-braised beef, house-made gravy and a choice of Wixey’s bread – plus a choice of dip, including single, double-dip or wet. “The food is pretty different. We have a lot of unique sandwiches,” Jacobsen said. After searching the entire area for the perfect Reuben, he’s made his own with marble rye, sauerkraut from the Fremont Company and house-made corned beef and Thousand Island salad dressing. Salads – named Dirt Candy – are fresh and made-to-order. The Fall Harvest includes fall vegetables, while the Chicken, Apple and Pear has all-local fruit. The restaurant will also offer a spin on the Greek salad, and a roasted turkey and apple salad. Sous chef Skyler Stanton will make soups such as French onion, butternut squash with an apple cider reduction and toasted pumpkin seeds, chili and a chef’s soup. Through the week, Dégagé Express will feature specials such as pot roast and stews, to fit the weather. “There are so many chain restaurants in Toledo, I feel it’s dulled people’s palates. I want people to experience freshly made sandwiches and vegetables, and change people’s ideas of what is food,” Jacobsen said. “But don’t be afraid of the new menu. You can still get mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. The basic cores are still here, just fresher and livelier.” The restaurant will also offer gourmet coffees, hot chocolates, teas, fresh-to-order salads and gourmet sides like the twice-baked sweet potato brulée. The average lunch is under $12.00, with most priced at $6.00 to $7.00. The word “dégagé” means “feeling free, easy and relaxed.” The “express” coincides with eating fresh food in a relaxed atmosphere without feeling rushed. Hours are 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Dégagé Jazz Café and fine dining, located in the same building, opens at 5:00 p.m. with the kitchen opening at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Jacobsen is executive chef of both the jazz café and Express. He is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City and has more than 11 years of culinary experience. For more information, visit www.historiccommercialbuilding.com or the restaurant’s Facebook page. For large parties, call (419) 795-8205, ext. 1.