Chef Jacques Hourtal and his son, Phillip, also a classically trained chef, are opening Riviera Provincial Grill at 1812 Hayes St., in the little vintage house behind the Hutton Hotel that used to be Vito’s (and before that, DaVinci’s Pizza). The Hourtals are doing a major cleanup and renovation, including installing a completely new kitchen.
Jacques Hourtal said he got the idea for the project from some friends who run Valentino’s, the longtime Italian spot on West End, who told him the neighborhood could use a casual French place.
The cuisine will be primarily inspired by the food of Southern France, but the menu will also include a bit of Northern Italy. (The elder Hourtal is a French native but is of Italian descent on his mother’s side, and spent a lot of time in the Piedmont region growing up.)
The younger Hourtal did his culinary studies in Europe but was actually born in Dallas, where his dad worked at the posh Mansion at Turtle Creek restaurant in the 1980s.
In Atlanta, Jacques Hourtal’s projects included Anis, a popular cafe that he launched in 1994, Soleil and Gauguin. He eventually sold his interest in those restaurants.
As for the new place, the menu is still under construction, but Jacques Hourtal said diners can expect “French comfort food” at an affordable price.
“We don’t want to be the stereotype of a French restaurant like in New York or Chicago. You should be able to get a bowl of mussels for $8 and a glass of wine for $5,” he said.
Riviera French Provincial Grill will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, presumably aiming to snag nearby hotel guests and health care workers in the Midtown neighborhood. And don’t forget West End Summit, the large office tower complex in the works a couple blocks away at the West End-Broadway split, which will house two HCA Corp. units.
Jacques Hourtal said the opening date is still tentative, but the team is shooting for mid-February.
A version of this story appeared in my Food Biz column in this week's print edition of The City Paper and online in the Nashville Post.