The Italian Kitchen, known as Lulav until earlier this year, will soon see another name change. Businessman Burch Wilson recently bought the restaurant from Matt Lile and plans to call it Cellar 220, according to Donnie Ferneau, who’s working for the restaurant as a business and kitchen consultant (repeated calls to Wilson went unreturned).
The restaurant, located at 220 W. 6th St., remains open, serving Italian food. A “restaurant re-launch” is coming in a few weeks, Ferneau said. Initially, Cellar 220 will only serve dinner, though Ferneau said lunch was a possibility. The interior will remain the same and the service staff is going to go through extensive training, said Ferneau, who described the cuisine as “affordable and wine friendly.”
“We’re looking at mid-week diners that really don’t want to break the bank when they go out, but they still want a great meal. Too many fine dining restaurants are slow during the week and busy on the weekends.”
Ferneau said he'd keep price on the menu low by using as many local, seasonal ingredients as possible.
Ferneau opened an eponymous restaurant in Hillcrest in 2005. He sold it to businessman Frank Fletcher in 2011 and stuck around as chef until January. Since then he’s hosted cooking classes and done more consulting. In addition to Cellar 220, he recently revamped the menu at The Tavern.
Next up, he’s opening up a new restaurant. He said he has the concept, the name and a location, but isn’t ready to divulge anything yet. Stay tuned.
In a statement on the Kitchen at White Water Tavern's Facebook page today, bar food genius Jonathan Wilkins announced that he will be leaving the Tavern in July to "pursue other opportunities." Wilkins' statement in full:
I wanted to take a moment and fill you in on some changes coming to the kitchen. In 1 month I will be leaving the White Water Tavern to pursue other opportunities. The past year has been a fantastic experience and I can't begin to thank you all for the support and kindness I have been shown. You'll still be able to chow down at your favorite bar and I'm sure you can look forward to an awesome new cook with an equally awesome new menu. July 12th will be my last day so there is still plenty of time to get your burger or Double Wide fix. If there are any specials that you'd like to see one more time just shoot me a message and I'll do my best to make it happen.
Thanks Very Much,
While I'm glad that White Water is planning to continue serving food, it's a sad day for all of us who have come to love Jonathan's food. His attention to quality ingredients and good techniques made White Water as much a destination for great food as it is for great music. We'll keep you updated on what's next for both Wilkins and White Water as we find out more, but for now, we want to wish Jonathan the best of luck. You all have one month to stuff yourselves with as many Huggy Bears, Double Wides, and orders of curry fries as you can.
Vesuvio's Bistro, the popular Italian restaurant tucked away in the Governor's Suites Hotel on Merrill Drive, and moving to a refurbished stand-alone space at 1315 Breckenridge Drive, the former location of El Chico's. The move, expected in mid-July, will let Vesuvio's double its size as well as its visibility, co-owner Bill Criswell said, with seating for 160 and parking for 90.
"We turn away so many people on the weekends, and we wanted to be in a stand-alone space as well," Criswell said. His partner in Vesuvio's is Santi Sacca.
The bigger space means the bistro will be able to expand its menu, with more "protein" on the menu, like veal chops. Fabrizeo Castangia is chef. The expansion will mean more hires as well, both in the kitchen and out front.
The new space will have a bar lounge for drinks and appetizers.
I know a thing or two about transitions. When the editor of the Arkansas Times first asked if I wanted to contribute to Eat Arkansas, it was only a few months after the departure of Kat Robinson, a writer who has eaten at and written about more places across this state than almost anyone. After my first few posts here, I recall getting an e-mail from Pat Lynch asking if I was the "new Kat," to which I replied that while I could never hope to replace her, I hoped I could do the blog justice. Things really started clicking a few months later when Dan joined the blog, and it's been relatively smooth sailing ever since.
And now, once again, I find myself in a place of transition, and once again I'm nervous and excited. Many of you are familiar with Arkansas Cooks, the local interview show hosted by Mary Twedt that airs every Saturday at noon on KUAR FM 89.1. Mary's been doing the show for ten years, and I've been an avid listener for many of those ten. A couple of months ago, Mary approached me and asked if I'd be interested in doing some episodes of Arkansas Cooks, as she was looking to transition into a less active role but wanted to keep the show going. Now, I'm not a radio guy, but I jumped at the chance to work on such a long-time favorite, especially with good folks like Mary and producer Travis Hill. Now for those of you who might be worried, let me say: Mary isn't leaving the show, she's just turning over some of the work to myself and the excellent Neal Moore. But I'll be on the air this Saturday with my first show, an interview with the ladies of Loblolly Creamery.
I know most of you regular Eat Arkansas readers need no introduction to Rachel Moore and Sally Mengel, who along with Dan Moore form the backbone of Little Rock's best ice cream company, but anybody who has ever talked to the ladies of Loblolly knows that Sally and Rachel are smart, funny, and happy to share their ice cream secrets (which turn out to be witchcraft) with anyone who is interested. I sat down with both of them at the Green Corner Store right before a private "Sundae Tasting" event, that saw everything from non-dairy ice cream made from coconut milk to custard flavored with saffron, to a candied rose petal that tasted like pure sugared spring time. I learned how long it took for Rachel to perfect their basic vanilla recipe (months) and the origins of the name "Loblolly." In addition to all that, the ladies talked about their future plans — including the eventual re-purposing of Jeffrey Palsa's food truck Preston into a new kind of ice cream wagon.
The care and love that Rachel, Sally, and Dan all put into their business is obvious with every bite of Loblolly ice cream (or every drink of house-made kombucha). I hope you'll all tune in to hear what this fantastic local business is up to — or at least tune in so you can come back here and make fun of my radio skills. I'll be keeping you all up to date with what's going on with the show; and of course stick around Eat Arkansas for the latest in blogtastic food news.
After hearing rumors that David Bennett, long-time Executive Chef and General Manager of Hillcrest favorite Vieux Carre, would be turning over the reigns of his Southern-style bistro, I hoped that perhaps they were unfounded. Vieux Carre is one of Little Rock's top spots for brunch, lunch, and Creole-influenced cuisine that has become one of my favorite places in town to eat. Chef Bennett's mother Linda e-mailed me today, however, and confirmed my worst fears: come April 1, Vieux Carre will be under new ownership with a new chef.
Following the trend for businessmen to get into the Hillcrest dining scene started by Rocket 21 owner Frank Fletcher, Vieux Carre's new owner is Joe Gillespie, owner of Revolution Fitness and FIX, a computer repair business in the Heights. Handling the cooking duties as Executive Chef at Vieux Carre will be Greg Wallis, most recently of YaYa's Euro Bistro in West Little Rock. He'll have some big shoes to fill. Still, such changes can be exciting, and I'll be sure to approach the new chef's menu with an open mind and empty stomach.
Linda Bennett says that her son is "looking forward to spending more time with his family and hopes to find a spot where he can cook, be creative and not be tied down 7 days a week managing bar and restaurant." Best of luck to Chef Bennett, from all of us here at Eat Arkansas, and rest assured that if he remains in the Little Rock area and wants to cook, we'll be more than ready to eat.
Click on the image above to see a PDF of the new menu at Revolution, the restaurant side of the River Market venue, which used to be called Rumba and serve Mexi-Cuban food.
From Donnie Ferneau's Facebook page via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (pay wall), an announcement that the chef is leaving the restaurant that once bore his name. Ferneau claims that the decision to leave was mutual with "no hard feelings on either side."
Little Rock businessman Frank Fletcher bought the restaurant in November 2011 and soon changed the name from Ferneau to Rocket 21. No news yet on what Chef Ferneau's plans are, but his Facebook announcement stated that he has been "working on a venture, looking for investors." More information as it becomes available.
About 1,000 people have e-mailed, texted, smoke-signaled and asked in person why I would refer to Jerry Meyer as the owner of Patio Pizza when Patio Pizza closed around three years ago. Here's the answer: Working in haste.
So, to clarify, Meyers has leased his building, where he operated Patio Pizza , to U.S. Pizza since closing Patio. Now, he's sold the restaurant to outright to the U.S. Pizza chain, owned by Judy Waller.
The Fair Park Residents Association notified its members in an e-mail about the transaction, which Meyers told us about earlier this week but asked us to wait until the sale had gone through before publishing. The restaurant will continue to be made available to the residents association for its Saturday morning monthly meetings.
Restaurant 1620 general manager Rick Qualls sent out an e-mail yesterday informing diners and the public that the restaurant will be closing June 30 for what he called "a complete make-over of the restaurant from top to bottom." Qualls said the restaurant will re-open in early September. In exchange for their patience during the retrofit, Qualls promised that the new and improved 1620 will be "one of the finest restaurants ever imagined in West Little Rock."
Read Max Brantley's 2005 review of 1620 here, and hit the "continue" for Qualls complete letter...
Leo Delgado, who took over as chef at Juanita's three months ago, plans roll out an improved menu to the public next week. Delgado said the menu will be at least 90 percent new, with fresher ingredients, daily preparation of everything in-house, more attractive presentation of dishes, and updated recipes.
Chef David Bennett said some items that were specials will now always be available, like the spicy burger, Mediterranean turkey and shrimp and grits. And here's something to toast: The changes mean Vieux Carre is lowering its prices.
Sandwiches will range between $7 and $9, with the exception of David's Outstanding Crab Cake Sandwich, at $12. Entrees — jambalaya, grilled chicken a la boursin, creamy bow tie pasta and blackened redfish — will run $15 to $17.
Vieux Carre is at 2721 Kavanaugh, next to the Afterthought, its bar that features live music six days a week. Phone number is 663-1196.
Dogtown Coffee and Cookery, a comfort-food (plus gourmet soup) eatery at 6725 JFK Blvd., will start serving dinner Thursday through Saturday next week and will have music from Bluesboy Jag on Friday nights, owner/chef Jason Godwin says.
The menu at Dogtown includes plate lunches, specials on Mondays and Thursdays, sandwiches and soups, like today's truffle, leek and potato with bacon crumbles on top. Specials include things like pulled pork tacos, pastas, etc. On the dessert list: muffins, cookies, scones, funnel cakes and homemade ice cream. There's no booze. "We're in the trifecta of churches," barrista Michael Hale explained. I've eaten lunch there and can vouch for it. Delicious.
Godwin was chef at Simply the Best Catering before opening Dogtown in July.
Ed David calls with word that his Bowman Road outlet of the Faded Rose has closed. He'd hoped to remain open through Saturday, Oct. 29, but staff had begun bailing out and he decided to close early.
Declining business dictated the closing after 23 years, David said. A lack of retail traffic lures in the shopping center, changes in the neighborhood and competition from chains all contributed, along with the poor economy.
The original Faded Rose on Rebsamen Park Road is still going strong, David said. "Join us there."
There has been a bit of shuffling lately in the River Market’s Ottenheimer Hall. Fat Sam’s Louisiana Café — purveyors of some reliably tasty New Orleans-style eats — unfortunately was forced to close because of a family illness. Shugg’s BBQ Kitchen recently took over the former Fat Sam’s spot. Andina’s Café recently moved out of the west end of the hall and into a spot in the Tuff Nutt Building on East Third Street.
Jim Rice, COO of the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, which handles leasing in the River Market, said the large spot formerly occupied by Shugg’s will most likely be split into two parcels. So far, there have been several proposals submitted, including a Mexican concept, a gourmet to-go operation, an ice cream concept and a few others that the LRCVB staff hasn’t had time to fully examine yet, Rice said.
An advisory committee makes the final selection about which applicants are awarded leases. All parcels lease for $3 per square foot.
He didn’t disclose any specific applicants, but said he would probably be able to discuss more details later next week. When considering applicants, the committee takes into account "diversity of offerings."
"We don’t want three of the same things," he said.
Other factors include "the quality, the reputation — but startups are also absolutely considered — experience of the operator and what we feel would best fit around what is offered currently."
The former Andina’s parcel will not be leased for a restaurant, Rice said. The open-air nature of the space makes it difficult to effectively heat and cool, he said.
A sometimes sparkling "nuevo Latino" menu, a trendy setting in a popular shopping center and the sure hands of restaurant veterans apparently weren't enough to sustain Capi's. The restaurant will close Sunday after brunch.
The good news is that owners Brent Peterson and Capi Peck will pull back into their Trio's restaurant with a good addition — Sunday brunch and Sunday dinner with half-off wine prices.
Their full news release:
Goof - send me your email to email@example.com
Daniel - better than Cordell's? If so I'd love the recipe.
Fat Bottom Cup Cakes, here is your Joseph Holland from Dallas, seems he is an…
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