Chef Paul Ent and sous chef Richard Radford are leaving Midtown Cafe, the popular West End-area restaurant. Find out why after the jump...
Owner Randy Rayburn brought Ent in a year ago to breathe new life into the 20-year-old landmark, known for power lunches and a staid and elegant menu of European-inspired cuisine. A former marine, Ent split the menu into two parts, dedicating one half to Midtown Classics (lemon-artichoke soup, veal piccata and crabcakes among them) and the other half to so-called New Creations, which were often contemporary treatments of classic Southern fare (think deconstructed chicken pot pie).
For months, Ent and Radford have been chomping at the bit to expand their artistic reach across the menu, while Rayburn has been determined to leave the Classics as they are. ("I didn't want the signature dishes changed. You need to honor the signature dishes while the adventuresome art goes on." Rayburn says. In other words, he adds, "Bruce Springsteen puts out a new album every year, but if he doesn't play 'Born to Run,' he doesn't fill any seats.")
When it recently came clear that they weren't going to have more artistic license with the menu, Ent and Radford decided to look for other opportunities.
With no hard feelings—and no specific plans—Radford says, he and Ent will vacate the tiny Midtown kitchen by the end of the week. Brian Uhl, executive chef of Rayburn's restaurants, which also include Sunset Grill and Cabana, will assume management of Midtown's kitchen. He'll unveil a new menu early next week.