"This is not going to be a Tri-C restaurant," chef Brandt Evans stresses as he unfurls a set of blueprints for his new downtown eatery. "Diners will not be guinea pigs for culinary students."
Evans has good reason to fear diners will make such assumptions: His latest endeavor will share more than a little wall space with Cuyahoga Community College's new Hospitality Management Center, slated to open this fall in the May Co. building. When it arrives in February, Evans' privately-owned Butcher's Block will likely be the most visible feature of the project. Fronting Public Square, the 120-seat restaurant will mark for Evans a return to hands-on bistro cooking.
Described as "sophisticated farmhouse cuisine," the Block will serve breakfast, lunch, and lively tapas-style happy hours. Full-scale dinner may come down the road. Look forward to a breakfast of smoked salmon, dill creamed cheese, and grilled sourdough. At lunch, sit at the bar for a speedy but luxe meal or grab a salad and sandwich to go from the display coolers. Happy hours will be filled with creative cocktails and Mason jars of housemade pickles, confit, rillettes, and pâtés. A smartphone app will inform customers of the heat-and-eat entrées available for quick pick-up.
"There is a lot you can do at a small restaurant that you can't do at one that serves 700 covers a night," says Evans, referring to his main gig, Blue Canyon (8960 Wilcox Dr. in Twinsburg, 330-486-2583, bluecanyonrestaurant.com). "I'm excited to cook more than pretzel-crusted trout. I got a lot more than that in my pocket, trust me."
They say when one door closes another opens. Just as Marlin Kaplan prepares to close his 11-year-old downtown showpiece One Walnut, he will open Roseangel, an über-casual taqueria in Detroit Shoreway. "I feel pretty good about the decision to close One Walnut," he says. "It's served an enormous constituency."
Taking over the recently shuttered La Boca, Roseangel will offer a streamlined menu of starters, tacos, and desserts. Diners will choose from 15 hand-crafted tacos, sold by the piece or platter, with fillings that include tofu, grilled walleye, seared tuna, beef tongue, and roasted pork. Salsas include mango-peach, salsa verde, poblano, and salsa fresco. Margaritas will feature fresh-squeezed juices. Kaplan was quick to put his whimsical stamp on the space, cladding the walls with orange and fuchsia crocodile-print wallpaper. Roseangel is slated to open July 7.