Red, a Steakhouse / Opening: November 4
For two locations that could be no more different from one another in terms of neighborhood and style of building, Red Beachwood and Red Downtown look and feel remarkably similar. Of course, that's by no means a happy accident, says chef Jonathan Bennett.
"If you take Beachwood and flip it on itself, that's downtown," he says. "It's pretty identical, all the way down to the booths and seating, plateware, recipes and menu."
Like the suburban location, the space is divided in half, with the bar and lounge on one side and the dining room on the other. Apart from a handful of additional tables in the dining room, the downtown space feels remarkably familiar.
"We have a great formula in Beachwood, and people love that formula," adds Bennett, who along with principals Brad Friedlander, Peter Vauthy and Jon Gross also operate restaurants in Florida. "Other than geography, we didn't want to give diners a reason to pick one restaurant over the other."
Due to open last spring, Red finally will open this week in the Volk's building, a two-story property on Prospect Avenue just east of Chinato. The polished space features the now-familiar design on display in both the Beachwood and South Beach locations of Red. Stacked ledge stone, glimmering red glass and deeply weathered steel form the building blocks of the space, bolstered by wood floors, black leather booths and a shiny black granite bartop.
The one main difference between the two NEO locations is a second floor in the downtown space, which boasts a meeting room and party room for another 160 guests. In spring, a rooftop space will cater to another 100 guests.
Chef de cuisine Michael Polosa will oversee the 85-item a la carte menu that deftly blends some of the city's best steaks and chops with seafood and pasta. The lengthy construction delays coupled with the fact that the new Red has a fully operating sister just 10 miles up the road means that little has been left to chance.
"We have a great opportunity here to let the staff experience what Red is supposed to feel like," Bennett explains. "It should be a nice, smooth opening."
It's been 16 years since Moxie opened in Beachwood. As for why it's taken this long for the restaurant group to plant a flag downtown, Bennett admits that, "When you're dropping $2 million in a hole, you don't want to be wrong. But there's nothing better than the feel of a downtown restaurant. The lights outside, the activity on East Fourth Street. It feels so good that Cleveland has gotten and is getting the recognition it deserves."
EDWINS Restaurant / Opening: November 1
"This is 10 years in the making," says Brandon Chrostowski. "I'm just ready and excited to open."
Equal parts upscale French restaurant and learning academy for previously incarcerated individuals reentering society, EDWINS seeks to go where no similarly themed reentry program has gone before.
"There's a history to this type of program but nobody has tried it at this level because they don't think it's possible," explains Chrostowski, who carries the title of founder and GM. "Most keep the students back in the kitchen."
For weeks now, this current class of students has been receiving intensive training in not only food preparation, food service and hospitality, but also personal finance, housing and medical assistance. By the time they graduate in six months, each will have touched every aspect of the restaurant, from pastry and garde manger to host and server.
"The goal is to give these people a second chance, to build their confidence, and help make them a better person," adds Chrostowski. "But also to help plug the labor gap in this city for hospitality positions."
The former Grotto space at Shaker Square has been warmed up considerably, giving it a soft Parisian feel. While billed as a "white tablecloth restaurant," EDWINS is by no means meant to come across as a stiff French bistro. Servers will dress in crisp blue jeans, a dark tuxedo vest and lavender dress shirt.
Chef Gilbert Brenot, a native of France, has cooked all over the world and Cleveland, most recently as chef and owner of Maxi's in Little Italy for the past 13 years. His experience in both traditional and nouvelle French cuisine will serve him well when preparing both classic and contemporary French dishes like salade Niçoise, frog legs with garlic butter, steak tartar, braised rabbit and steak au poivre. A rolling cheese cart will offer a choice of dozens of fine artisan selections.
EDWINS will be open for dinner Monday through Saturday, with lunch service being added down the road.