The debut of Pickwick & Frolic (2035 East Fourth Street, 216-241-7425) took almost a year longer than originally anticipated, but the downtown entertainment venue, with a restaurant, martini lounge, cabaret, and comedy club, finally marked its "soft opening" on September 6. (Grand-opening festivities are planned for late October.) Owner Nick Kostis designed the 27,000-square-foot complex to be, first and foremost, a dining destination, and great pains were taken in outfitting the 185-seat restaurant with the specialized cooking equipment (a domed stone oven and two wood-fired grills) needed to support the enormous menu of "American rustic cuisine." Director of Operations Felicia Hengle says the menu is too large and too complex to be defined by any single chef; instead, the bill of fare was developed over the course of several years in conjunction with the equipment manufacturer in Seattle. (Chef John Krummrich, formerly of Inn at Turner's Mill and Severance Restaurant, served as culinary consultant for the three months immediately preceding the opening; Ken Sherepita, from Sammy's catering operation, is the managing chef.)
Signature items include rosemary-and-garlic-crusted prime rib, topped with spicy tomato chutney and served with cheddar-chive mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and a choice of soup or salad ($19.95 for the 10-ounce cut); and rotisserie chicken, stuffed with herbs and cooked over an open flame, with potatoes, veggies, and soup or salad ($14.95). Then, there are the double-boned pork chops, the braised lamb shanks, the mussels cataplana, the hearth-oven-baked breads and pizzas, the grilled peaches . . . the list goes on and on. Hengle says everything is made from scratch, on the premises. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, and dinner only on Saturday and Sunday; no weekend lunch service, at least for now.
The more, the merrier . . .
Vivo (an outpost of Dan Krasny's popular Chi-town restaurant) opened September 13, just across Euclid from Pickwick & Frolic, in the Old Arcade (347 Euclid Avenue). Executive Chef Todd Stein is overseeing the contemporary Italian menu, loaded with comforting, seasonal, but distinctly upscale dishes in the $13 to $29 range. (Stein, like Pickwick, has a wood-burning grill and allegedly makes a mean roasted chicken.) For now, Vivo serves dinner only, Tuesday through Sunday; lunch service should begin in a month or so. Call 216-621-4678 for reservations.