I visited Liberty Rock Tavern in Milford shortly after they opened, and I distinctly remember Dan Kardos’ description of his menu, “I’m making food that people like to eat, food that I like to eat,” he said.
That “food” is best described as elevated pub grub, which could be surprising to those who followed Kardos’ stints at Napa & Co., Le Farm, and various Barcelona locations. His fine dining background ultimately results in better bar food. It’s the kind of food made for cheat day, where you’ll have to roll up your sleeves, and sit as pulled up to the bar or table as you can get. It’s successful stuff.
Now approaching two years in business, Liberty Rock has generated a dedicated local following that’s thirsty for its solid craft beer selection and hungry for its soul-satisfying menu. And yes, that includes its chicken sandwich that quickly reached legendary status amongst area food geeks and restaurant industry folks.
What I’m not here to do is reintroduce its brick-and-mortar in the Village of Devon. I’m here to tell you about Liberty Rock’s sequel…on wheels. Yeah, that’s right, a food truck, an idea that wasn’t originally in the plans for Kardos and his three business partners.
The mobile version of the bar first came about because Kardos had some free time during the day. “I was looking for something to do (the tavern opens late afternoon most days) when I wasn’t consulting in other restaurants, and we knew we couldn’t compete with places that have big patios when the weather gets nicer,” he said. “Then a friend up the street had a fully-equipped food truck for sale (formerly the Bridgeport Rescue Mission’s food truck for 20 years), so we bought it in July 2017.”
The truck, now decked out in Liberty Rock graphics, is pretty much a direct spinoff, and according to Kardos, a good way to introduce the bar to other markets. “Sometimes it’s tough to get people from other areas to come check us out up here, so it’s a way for us to come to you,” he said. “I’m cooking in the truck almost always, so it’s nice for me to be able to get out and interact with customers.”
On the truck, Kardos is firing up a succinct menu of guilty pleasures like smoked gouda smothered mac & cheese with chunks of country ham and fresh peas. The mac is a perfect side for meaty, slow-baked, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs that are cured first, then dry-rubbed in a spice blend of salt, pepper, cinnamon, and chipotle, followed by a sticky glazing of chili-sesame oil and homemade BBQ sauce. There’s also a thick, snappy casing, juicy bratwurst that’s slathered in tangy mustard, and topped with chopped B&B pickles and jalapeños. Kardos says it’s the most “slept on” thing on the menu. I’d recommend you wake up and try it.
There’s lighter fare too, like the refreshing Cuke & Watermelon Salad; sweet watermelon chunks, sliced cucumber, salty queso fresco, and mint leaves. It’s a perfect summer dish. If you’re not totally watching your diet, order up a side of fried plantains, seasoned with that chipotle-based rib seasoning, served with cool ranch for dipping.
It’s all damn good truck fare, but if the truck is your first Liberty Rock experience, their tender, crispy chicken sandwich is a must-try. The photo of this bacon, melted cheese, ranch, pickles, and jalapeño topped sandwich should be enough to get you to commit.
Be on the lookout as the truck will be at local breweries Two Roads, No Worries, and Bad Sons on various days this summer. Additionally, they’ll be present at the Milford Food Truck Festival from May 26-28, Blues on the Beach on July 28, and at Bonfire on the Beach. The best way find the truck—and spontaneous appearances—is to follow Liberty Rock Tavern on Instagram, Facebook, or you can follow Chef Kardos on Instagram. They’re also available for private parties where they can cater a BBQ feast, lobster bake, or you can work with them to build a customizable menu around your budget.
Now it’s up to you to track down the Liberty Rock Food Truck. You’ll be glad you did!