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What's cooking/Capsule review, Dec. 21 

What's cooking

Crush, a wine and cheese bar, will be opening in early 2007 in the Block 2 Lofts first-floor retail space vacated late last week by Firehouse Subs. The owners of Firehouse, with plans to relocate to Florida, sold their other Firehouse stores in Pulaski County and closed their other store downtown on Saturday, Dec. 16.

Steve Leeks, the owner of Pokey D’s at the southeast corner of Markham and Scott Streets, across the street from the lofts, says he plans to add some sub sandwiches to his menu to take up the slack of the now-closed Firehouse, whose downtown business was mostly at lunch, with some surges during weekend events at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Capsule review

UPDATE: CIAO BACI Chef Greg Loyd is cooking up something new at the neighborhood wine bar. A new menu, that is. Ciao Baci now features a more extensive list of tapas. Though you can still find favorites like the steeped mussels and calamari, new additions include crawfish beignets, Thai wonton purses, empanadas, Jay’s gnocchi and our favorite, fried ravioli. These aren’t your normal St. Louis-style fried ravioli. These are much bigger and are house made, stuffed with Bolognese — made from the same tenderloin of beef as the filets, we were told — and cheese, served on top of a light, and very tasty, tomato sauce. Our filet was the best we’ve had in a long time. It was served perfectly medium rare with a bordelaise sauce and house-made gnocchi. Other promising entrees from the new menu include poached halibut, grilled Tasmania salmon, rack of venison, roasted duck breast and pork osso buco. We caught a glimpse of the Southern-style chicken cordon bleu on a table nearby and will definitely be giving it a taste on our next visit. 605 N. Beechwood St. Full bar. CC $$$ 603-0238 D Mon.-Sat.

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