Learn more about cozy East Side restaurant Tongue in Cheek in this Q&A with Ryan Huseby, General Manager and Co-owner.
Who started Tongue in Cheek, and when did you open its doors?
Tongue in Cheek was started by us — Ashleigh Newman, Leonard Anderson, and Ryan Huseby — in June of 2014. We were able to open this restaurant without outside investors, finding what financing we could, and doing most of the renovation, decorating, and setup work ourselves (and with the help of family and friends!). The three of us still own 100% of the business, and we work in the restaurant full-time. It’s important to us to connect with our community and guests on a personal level.
What makes Tongue in Cheek unique?
We are dedicated to serving only humanely raised animal products and sustainably grown produce. Chef Leonard’s creations are an eclectic blend of cuisines and focus on contrast of flavor and texture. We serve fine-dining-quality food and drink in a casual setting, taking the pretension out of fine dining.
What is the most popular item on your menu?
Braised pork belly. It is featured in numerous dishes on our menu — the East Fried Pride teaser; Pork Belly Steamed Buns; the Classic Ramen; and Here’s Johnny, a braised pork belly eggs benedict on the brunch menu. The pork belly is also the only current menu item that has been on our menu in numerous forms since we opened.
In addition to “placebos” (mocktails) made to order, you have a range of cocktails available. What do you recommend?
Our cocktails reflect the creativity of our food — complex flavors served in an approachable manner. Our most popular cocktail is the Ron Swanson, our version of an old fashioned. Our most unique cocktail is the Curious Case: gin, sake, lemon, ginger, jalapeño, and cilantro. It’s herbaceous, earthy, tart and a tad spicy.
Where does your recipe inspiration and style come from?
Chef Leonard draws inspiration from a wide variety of cuisines and techniques — Asian, Italian, Spanish, and North African to name a few. All of our animal products are humanely and sustainably sourced.
Where do you source your ingredients from?
We source our ingredients from a variety of local distributors and a few local farms. Individual farms can’t always keep up with our needs, so much of what we get is from cooperatives of farms, who adhere to humane and sustainable practices.
How can co-op members support Tongue in Cheek right now?
Even as we reopen dine-in service in a limited capacity over the course of the summer, we will continue to offer curbside takeout for our guests. Gift cards are also a wonderful way to support us. And also, keep supporting other local neighborhood businesses. Our continued success depends upon the success of the community as a whole!
Our Community Partners are small, independent local businesses that have been hit especially hard by the effects of COVID-19. Join us in solidarity and show your love for our community by continuing to eat, drink, and shop locally.