Chef Mary Holmberg

by Amy Harrington | December 27th, 2012 | Chef Interviews

Looking for a laid back tavern that you can relax in with great food, friends, and drinks? Then head over to the ‘dam on 998 Amsterdam Avenue in New York, NY. The ‘dam can exceed your expectations whether you are there to watch your favorite game, attend an event or host a private party.  With a regular rotating beer schedule you have unlimited options to drink something great along with your favorite meals. At the ‘dam you can be sure to find the classic Mac and Cheese dish, Shepherds Pie, and of course a mouthwatering ‘dam burger. Behind the brains of the menu, is Mary Holmberg who graciously talked to me about her menu.

AH: Do you work with any farms in particular?

CH: I go down to Chelsea Market every day, and to Hun’s Market for the freshest vegetables. This way I ensure the freshest ingredients for all of my dishes.

AH: How many dishes are new to your menu?

CH: Each season, we try to add a specialty cocktail and specialty food menu to the mix- just to spice things up and take advantage of the season produce! I added eight new dishes to this menu that all have that hearty-comfort food appeal to them.

AH: How are you able to demonstrate a creative flair in your dishes?

CH: My recipes are unique because I have mastered the ability to layer flavors in all of my dishes. I am also an artist when it comes to the presentation of my dishes. I often get my inspiration by talking with my customers and sampling other chef recipes. I like hearing what my customers have enjoyed and what exactly they enjoyed about it.

AH: When did you first decide you wanted to cook?

CH: I first knew I was meant to become a chef when I was about 5 years old. I loved Sunday mornings because my father would always wake up at 5 a.m. to cook us a huge breakfast.  As soon as I was old enough to become his helper, I knew I had a passion for culinary arts. I couldn’t wait to start learning how to cook.

AH: With simple dishes on your menu how do you provide variety?

CH: the ‘dam offers several traditional-styled dishes with a unique flair. For example, I’ve transformed the simple French toast to a stuffed banana and peanut butter delight! I’ve taken a traditional baked potato soup and topped it with cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, and scallions for a richer taste. For the fall menu, pumpkin was the main ingredient in all of the dishes. The penne with diced pumpkin chunks and sage sausage was a crowd pleaser all season long. It’s all about taking the dishes that people all know and love, and making them better with additional ingredients.

AH: What makes your restaurant unique?

CH: the ‘dam is unique because we take ordinary bar-food and upgrade it to a gourmet level. Everything is prepared with some ‘dam love. It has become a treasured tavern for Upper West Side locals and provides the perfect spot for an intimate date night. We offer different drink promotions every night of the week- including $5 Wine Wednesdays and two-for-one Tuesdays (drafts, apps and specialty cocktails).

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