We reported online two weeks ago that longtime fine-dining establishment the Track closed after a 33-year run in Carytown. Owner Chris Liles sold the business to Susan Doyle and Anne Stewart, sisters who are redecorating for its opening as Bonvenu Restaurant. That's “welcome” in the international language Esperanto, hinting at worldly influences on the menu and a friendly, casual vibe.
So far, food ideas are still coming together but Doyle knows the price range — midteens to low twenties for dinner entrees. Lately she's worked at Stronghill Dining Company, a refuge for past Track chefs including Owen Lane, making this a full-circle situation with collegial connections to the Track's 1920s dining room and its significant potential.
Bonvenu will be “a nice, intimate space where people will feel comfortable and want to stay awhile,” Doyle says of the tin-ceilinged, 42-seat spot, which will have a granite bar that accommodates 10 more. She's adding oak flooring, new colors and a brighter attitude in the redesign. “Nothing fancy but clean and more contemporary,” she says.
As a restaurant veteran and business executive, Doyle says recent soul-searching affirmed her desire to run her own place, and she'll be a constant front-of-house presence when Bonvenu opens around the holidays. Weekend luncheon hours will be added later, with dinner and bar service running Tuesdays through Sundays. “We're excited, of course,” Doyle says with the usual mix of optimistic trepidation, “and we can't wait to be a good, positive part of Carytown.” 2915 W. Cary St.
If there's a way to sweet talk food critics in a judging room, chef Michael Hall has learned how to do it. He's the winner of the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction for his Dish of the Year at the Nov. 8 event.
Michael Hall's bacon-wrapped portobello lollypop is a winner. Photo by Lorenzo NicholsonHall created glasslike plates of sugar embedded with flowers and herbs. As warm polenta rings melted the sugar, Hall's truffle portobello “chops” with lamb ragout took on a gentle sweetness, just right for the playful lollypop-style presentation. Hall also won for best visual display. He's a frequent past winner, and is general manager of the Bull and Bear Club downtown.
Second place went to chef Philip Denny, new to Six Burner Restaurant in the Fan, for his savory pig trotter and foie gras croquette served with spicy roasted pepper sauce and dandelion frisee salad (and yes, “foie gras” is tattooed on his knuckles). In third place, chef David Napier of White House Catering's creamy crepes of lump crab and brie, alongside an apple-arugula sautAc, wowed the judges with hints of curry in the apple beurre blanc.
The event, of which Style Weekly is a sponsor, raised more than $75,000 for the March of Dimes and set a record for its Fund the Mission auction package.