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Bringing outdoors inside

New restaurant will serve big flavors in a small space

Rosie Altagracia stands in front of what will soon be her new restaurant, Cook in the Timber. The newest establishment in Washington will be located at 219 W. Main St., across from the courthouse and will open this fall. (Gretchen Teske/The Union)
Rosie Altagracia stands in front of what will soon be her new restaurant, Cook in the Timber. The newest establishment in Washington will be located at 219 W. Main St., across from the courthouse and will open this fall. (Gretchen Teske/The Union)

WASHINGTON — Rosie Altagracia has many titles but the one she prefers the most is maker. This November, she will open the doors to her first restaurant, Cook in the Timber, to make what she calls “a culinary experience of Americana.”

Altagracia said getting to open her own restaurant has been a dream of hers for a while. The new location will be at 219 W. Main St., across from the Washington County Courthouse.

Known around town for her food trailer, Tiny Town, she acquired the trailer after culinary school and has had it at the farmers market for six seasons.

“It’s always been a very successful package. Not that everybody knew what our concept was, but they definitely got a feeling for it by eating our food,” she said.

Altagracia said she does not like to define herself, but says her food will reflect her Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage. The goal is to use as many local products as possible to provide the highest quality food possible.

Traditional fare, such as rice and beans and stews will be on the menu. Slow cooking mixed with contemporary techniques are what will set her apart, she said.

“I’m never going to forget about the basis of wood fire and slow cooking. That’s how my people cooked food, and that’s how people that first settled when they first came here did. I kind of want to bring that back, hence the Americana,” she said.

In Iowa, BBQ and corn are two big staples with the state being known for pork and corn production. Altagracia said those both have a meaning in her culture as well and her hope is to create a place where food can be the way people begin to understand and appreciate other cultures.

The building on Main Street is small, but Altagracia said that’s OK.

“Having a small kitchen is really going to allow me to be focused, purposeful and driven,” she said.

Using that drive and passion, Altagracia said it is her goal to “bring the timbers in” and even plans to make the tables and other furniture herself. With an art school background helping to fuel her passion and creativity for the new space, that will be no problem.

“You can say I’m a chef, but in my heart I’m a maker. I will always be a maker,” she said.