mission & vision
Last fall the space next door to Legume opened, which means Dacha is on hold while we open our new cafe, Pie For Breakfast. Don't worry, we still want to open Dacha! It's just on the back burner for now.
Our mission for Dacha is to source as much healthy, sustainable food as we can possibly find that is raised by people we know, cook it properly with strong classical technique and attention to detail, serve it at a democratic price point in a warm, convivial environment, and provide right livelihood for our employees.
At its core, Dacha is a restaurant disguised as a bar. While the food and drinks will be made with great care, the vibe will be relaxed and laid back instead of formal. Our goal for Dacha is to create a place where excellent food and beverages are part of a bigger experience, one that is social, nourishing to the body and spirit, and is a genuinely positive force in our community here in Pittsburgh.
At the heart of the restaurant is the pecht, a large traditional wood-fired Russian oven. The warmth of the pecht will be a cozy invitation in the colder months, while the element of cooking with wood will add another dimension to our process-driven approach to cooking. Just as explorations into fermentation and whole animal butchery have led our cooking to places we could have never anticipated, our feeling is that the pecht will lead us down similar unexpected paths. In the summer, an outdoor garden space will offer a relaxing area for people to enjoy the open air, as well as a place to grow herbs, flowers and salad greens. Preservation projects (drying, canning, fermentation), so very integral to the food we’ll be making, will be on display year-round throughout the dining spaces.
Stylistically, the food and beverage at our Dacha is inspired by (though not strictly limited to) the cuisines of Eastern Europe and Russia. It is a concept that belongs in Pittsburgh and to Pittsburgh for several reasons. A great deal of the staple ingredients of these cuisines have been grown here for generations and dominate local markets; our climates are similar so of course, our seasonal local foods have similarities as well. The culinary traditions of Eastern Europe (and Russia) have evolved over time to deal with winter and have a lot to teach us. Furthermore, Pittsburgh is a city built of immigrants, many of whom arrived from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s to work the mines and mills. Dacha food will strike a chord for the present generations in this rich cultural terroir.
In terms of spirit, our goal is to explore even further the DIY ethos that has been the cornerstone of our first restaurant, Legume, over the past eight years. This includes minute, behind-the-scenes details like drying all of our own herbs in the summer to be used in our cooking throughout the year, continuing to pickle a great deal of produce for winter and spring use, and using only meat from locally-raised animals fed GMO-free diets. In essence, our ambition is to know what food cooked completely off the industrial grid tastes like, and to serve food that is—as much as we can know—as non-violent, non-exploitative, and ultimately life affirming as possible. It is through this lens that we will be approaching Eastern European and Russian-inspired cuisine at Dacha.
The long-term goal for Dacha is to create a space for tangible, genuine engagement with sustainable foodways that goes beyond what can happen in a typical restaurant. At the adjoining Summer Kitchen, a mixed-use commissary kitchen, cooking classroom, and artist-in-residence space, our goal is to expand the context in which local foods can be enjoyed. A typical restaurant experience is fundamentally a business transaction that occurs between a customer and the restaurant, thus the nature of this relationship keeps the restaurant in the position of middleman between the source of the food and the eater. At the Summer Kitchen at Dacha, we will explore other ways of engaging with local food systems, by providing a home for ongoing research, creative thinking, and sharing educational resources about sustainable foodways.
But we may be getting ahead of ourselves here. First, we need to make this little restaurant disguised as a bar busy and successful.