Bac Nguyen comes from a long line of enthusiastic Vietnamese cooks. His grandmother is the "Minh" in Minh Anh, a restaurant she founded 24 years ago. (She is no longer involved.) His mother operated the popular Chinese Village, a casual Asian eatery that survived in Lakewood for 14 years. Now it's Bac's turn. The Case grad is putting the finishing touches on Bac, a contemporary pan-Asian restaurant that will open in the former Tremont home of La Tortilla Feliz. "Neither me nor my mother are trained cooks," explains Nguyen. "It is just something we naturally enjoy doing." The menu will feature popular dishes from various Asian cuisines; most will be prepared in the traditional way, but others will be freshened up with modern twists. "My intention is to keep the food familiar and accessible at first, and down the road introduce some more unique fusion dishes." Diners can expect edamame, spring rolls, crepes, shredded papaya salad, pad thai, pho, rice vermicelli and braised Korean short rib. Look for a totally renovated space, with new façade, bar and lounge area, expanded patio and updated dining room. Nguyen, an experienced DJ, hopes to create a "casual, cool vibe" that lingers into the night. "I want the restaurant to be nice enough to bring a date but affordable enough so that people can come regularly," he says. Look for an October opening.
It was a sad surprise for many to learn that Juniper Grille (1332 Carnegie Ave.), the seven-year-old breakfast and lunch spot near Progressive Field, closed abruptly earlier this month. "My wife and I looked at the lease, and I decided we wanted to do something else somewhere else," explains owner Tom Szoradi. Fans of Szoradi's style, which relies on quality ingredients and classic technique to create approachable, affordable fare, should not have to hold their breaths too long. Once the team settles on a spot — they are looking in the nearby suburbs surrounding the city — they will move forward with plans to open "something similar in style."
Nickel & Nickel is the source of some of the finest single-vineyard wines coming out of the Napa Valley. At 7 p.m. Thursday, August 6, Moxie (3355 Richmond Rd., 216.831.5599, moxietherestaurant.com) will host a dinner featuring the wines of Nickel & Nickel, including an early release of the 2006 cabernet sauvignon. Chef Jonathan Bennett has created a spectacular five-course menu to match. Reservations are suggested; cost is $99 plus tax and gratuity.