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Munch aims to change McHenry County’s culinary landscape

Published: Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014 5:40 a.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014 12:09 p.m. CDT
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(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Munch co-owner Jeff Ash sends in an order in the recently opened Woodstock restaurant. The restaurant features imaginative offerings like the buffaloaded, buffalo waffle fries with blue cheese crumbles and ranch; the cod father, battered cod, cheddar cheese, coleslaw and malt vinegar remoulade; bodacious bull, tender braised beef with horseradish crème and pickled red onion slaw; and melts like the sweet pea, chocolate, peanut butter, banana and Nutella in a white bread Panini.
Caption
(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
An order of Naan-chos – flatbread chips smothered in hummus, onion, tomato, cucumber, olives and creamy dill sauce – waits to be delivered at Munch, a Woodstock restaurant that opened earlier this month.
Caption
(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Customers interact at Munch, a new restaurant in Woodstock.

WOODSTOCK – There’s a new restaurant in town, and its owners are out to change the local eatery landscape. 

“Don’t get me wrong. There are some great area restaurants,” said James Taylor “J.T.” Ash II, who this month opened Munch at 1409 S. Eastwood Drive in Woodstock with his brother, Jeff Ash, and sister-in-law, Leslie Ash.

“We’re just trying to take things up a notch,” he continued. “My brother and I have spent a lot of time in this industry. We hope Woodstock responds to it.”

There’s plenty of the Ashes’ native Texas influence sprinkled throughout the menu in items such as the huevos diablos, a deviled egg salad deli sandwich with sriracha and green onion, and the hillbilly chili queso, a roadhouse chili and creamy queso dip served with warm tortilla chips. 

And early indications are that Woodstock is indeed responding to the creative menu items and flavorful fare at the sports- and music-themed family restaurant nestled next to Golf and Games.

“We must have heard 20 times in one day that ‘Oh my God, Woodstock needs this,’ ” J.T. Ash said after the restaurant’s soft opening the week of Aug. 4. “That’s the reaction we hoped for.”

Woodstock residents Brian Noshay and his wife, Emily, already are fans. 

“I like the Asian pork belly taco, and I like the bodacious bull, a horseradish, beef and pickled red onion taco,” Brian Noshay said. “It’s kind of like prime rib in a taco.”

Jeff Ash said he and his brother, both now of Woodstock, grew up near Nacogdoches in east Texas. Jeff Ash worked for Sysco Food Service for 12 years, while chef J.T. Ash’s impressive and lengthy career has included cooking for Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tony Curtis, Sinead O’ Connor, Princess Diana and President H.W. Bush. 

“It’s not a question of what I can cook, it’s a question of what I can put on the plate and make it reasonable and accessible,” the chef said. “And if people want something a little different, special orders don’t upset us. If they want a little more of something or less of something in their dish, ask us.

“What we’re trying to do is change the theme in Woodstock,” he said. “It’s the coolest town in northern Illinois. It really is.”

Leslie Ash added that the restaurant also features gluten-free options as well as vegetarian and vegan fare. 

“We want the whole family to be able to come and enjoy it,” she said.

The menu offers appetizers, six different takes on French fries, eight taco versions, plus sandwiches, burgers, melts, salads and desserts, including hand-dipped milk shakes and frozen margarita key lime pie.

Prices range from $2.25 for a basket of fries to $13 for a d-day burger, featuring two patties with wild mushrooms, onion and garlic sautéed in red wine and topped with pâté and herb cream cheese on a bun. Beer and wine are available.

“I definitely recommend that people try it,” Brian Noshay said of Munch. “It’s something made from scratch and a break from the ordinary. And the portion size, for what you pay, you get a bang for your buck there.” 

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Munch

Location: 1409 S. Eastwood Drive, Woodstock

Featuring: Imaginative, fresh-recipe food with a Texas flair

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.

Information: 815-527-7643, or find Munch on Facebook

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