Today’s Special: 775 Gastropub

Where: Reno, Nevada
What: Basque-inspired American bistro fare
Karma Points: Supports local farmers; supports different local charity monthly 

While gastropubs originated in England, in recent years it has arrived on our shores and taken hold, to the delight of libation lovers and foodies alike. Now, 775 Gastropub has brought the concept to Reno and it’s the only family-owned, locally-owned gastropub of its kind in the area.

775 Gastropub has over 200 of the world’s best beers, including offerings from the local Great Basin Brewing Co. But in the 15 months since it opened, 775 Gastropub has also become a destination for discerning foodies who come just for chef Auriane Ugalde’s Basque-inspired cuisine.

Owner John Leniz, his wife and chef Auriane, all hail from northern Nevada and are Spanish Basque. While northern Nevada has a large Basque population (from the days when the Basque where sheepherders in the region), Chef Auriane traveled back to her roots in northern Spain’s Basque country to train. She worked at one of Spain’s most famous restaurants, the Michelin 3-star Arzak in San Sebastian. The Basque culture is steeped in a rich tradition of gastronomic societies, something that may seem like a phenomenon, but is an institution in that part of the world.

Chef Auriane then worked in Chicago for 25 years before coming home to Reno to share her culinary creations. And she makes as many of those creations by hand, such as the homemade Basque chorizo, grinding the pork and adding spices that include garlic and paprika. Sauces and dressings are made there as well.

Burger purists are happy to find that 775 Gastropub grinds the beef for its hamburgers and John says they do not add fillers. When it’s available from local purveyors, the hamburger is pure Nevada beef that’s aged two weeks and has never been frozen.

“We get it when we can locally,” John says. “When you buy local it’s always more expensive. I don’t know why. We get what we can. We’re able to get some good meat here and we get our eggs locally.” He buys as much local produce, as he can, when it’s available.

775 Gastropub gets Karma Points, not only for buying local, even though it’s more expensive, but for giving a mitzvah in another way. Their philosophy of supporting the local economy goes beyond food purveyors at 775 Gastropub. They are eagerly supportive of local charities as well. When customers eat there, they know some of their dollars will go to a different charity each month. The Charity of the Month of August was the Builders Association Charity and 775 Gastropub sponsored a blood drive with BAC.

But if it wasn’t for the food, 775 Gastropub wouldn’t have so quickly become a popular dining spot. The eclectic menu boasts tapas such as chukar lettuce wraps, escargot, chorizo and baby clams, golden rings hand-dipped in house-made beer, seared duck breast salad and paella, just to name a few items guaranteed to whet any foodie’s appetite.

775 Gastro includes vegan-friendly dishes such as its vegetable tagine, lentil salad, and pear salad.  In addition to the around-the-world palette pleasing flavor offerings, 775 Gastropub has a staple of American bistro favorites such as the 775 burger made of 8-oz of fresh Nevada beef and a house-blend sage rub. There are various steak dishes as well as lamb dishes, since this is Basque-inspired cuisine, after all.

Desserts can be fancy, like poached pear or plum kuchen and simple, such as a brownie torte sundae and a root beer or ice cream float. There are nine weekly specials and the menu changes seasonally at 775 Gastropub.

As for the gastropub’s name, locals with the same area code get it. “775 is staying true, because I was born here, my wife, my chef is from here too,” John says. “We’re still relatively new. We’re open 15 months right now and word of mouth is out there and we feature a relaxed pub atmosphere.”

For more info: www.775gastropub.com