Matt Sweeney

Matt Sweeney

sweeney-largeIn 2012, Matt Sweeney (pictured far right) and his brother Josh were toiling at soulless corporate jobs near Cincinnati when their father, Ron Sweeney, came to them with the idea of opening what’s now the trendiest restaurant in Aurora, Indiana.

“My dad was in real estate and he hated it so he cashed in his 401k and talked to us about opening [Third and Main],” Matt says. “Honestly, I had no bartending experience before we opened. Now I’m passionate about it. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it.”

Located in an elegantly-renovated brick building that dates to 1893, Third and Main reflects the historic nature of Aurora, a charming river town 35 miles west of Cincinnati. The contemporary American restaurant suits all tastes — from beer-and-burger lovers who are putting the stuffed steak burgers and smoky barbecue on the map, to discerning urban diners looking for a custom craft cocktail and a menu created with fresh locally-sourced ingredients.

Matt is the assistant general manager and bar manager and Josh is the executive chef of the thriving family-owned business. Matt says it’s their mission to promote all the wonderful stuff going on in the culinary and beverage worlds.

“We got sick of the corporations because they’re very cookie cutter and there’s not a lot of creativity in those environments. It’s all about making money,” Matt says.

Behind the tavern-like bar with polished wood and tin ceilings, Matt uses The Perfect Purée products in his Rye of the Tiger Martini and Blood Orange Margarita. A signature creation that’s new to the menu at Third and Main, Rye of the Tiger contains Lychee Puree, Bulleit Rye Whiskey, St. Germain and an ice cube with a strawberry frozen inside it.

“Instead of just adding the ingredients and giving them a shake, I like putting more love into it,” Matt says. “We still sell Long Islands and Jack and Cokes but for people who want to try something new, The Perfect Purée has an artistic experience behind it.”

Behind the stove, meanwhile, Josh spoons Lychee vinaigrette over albacore tuna served with wasabi peas, fresh Mandarin oranges and fried rice noodles. He also makes a blood orange marinade for mahi mahi with toasted garlic olive oil.

At his previous job, Josh said he created a Thai chili sorbet with Lychee Puree and a Peekytoe crab salad with Lychee Puree, radishes and cucumber strings.

“The reason I like the purees a lot is because I can keep them in the freezer and when it strikes me to implement them in some sort of dish, I have the ability to go in there and get a flavor I don’t always have access to,” he says. “A lot of times people don’t understand you can implement them into food as well. They think they’re just good for ice creams and sorbets.”

When Josh finds himself with a surplus of puree, like a recent order of blood orange, he shares it with his brother, Ryan, a craft brewer opening a brew pub in Aurora. Josh said the blood orange-flavored beer was a big hit.

“That’s where beers are going right now, with different notes of kiwi and other fruits. If [Ryan] finds something that’s a hit he could be ordering purees by the pallet-full,” Josh says.

Recipe

Rye of the Tiger

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