Tandy Wilson and Anne Kostroski love Italian food. After meeting in the kitchen at Tra Vigne restaurant in Napa Valley, the couple traveled to Italy, eating their way across the country and bringing home a vision of a restaurant they’d like to open some day. But until that day, Tandy went to work as the sous chef at Margot Café, where he became something of local hero for his home-cured meats and Kostroski made decadent desserts.
After getting hitched a couple years ago, Wilson and pastry chef Kostroski considered relocating to Italy, but instead headed back to the boot for a second cooks’ tour. Upon returning home this time, they’re ready to open their own Italian place, The City House.
Wilson and Kostroski purchased the former Germantown house and studio of Alan LeQuire, the sculptor who designed “Musica” at the Music Row Roundabout and the Athena sculpture at the Parthenon in Centennial Park. The main dining room and open kitchen, with its wood-burning stove, will occupy the studio. (The patio floor still bears a mosaic of the LeQuires’ dogs.)
When City House opens this fall, expect a menu of pizza, fresh pasta and roasted meats and fish, plus Kostroski’s spin on gelato, cookies, cakes and freshly baked breads. “It’s simple food,” Wilson says of the Italian fare that inspired their venture, “but a lot goes into how you find the right ingredients.” Simple entrées—like steak with olive oil and sea salt—will be served with a choice of side items, he adds. And on Sundays they’re looking forward to creating a casual family affair, “whether we roast a pig or make a big lasagna.” 1222 Fourth Ave. N.
On the eve of its fifth birthday, The Family Wash is rinsing out its menu and giving it the spin cycle. With the recent departure of chef/co-owner Julia Helton from the tiny kitchen, owner Jamie Rubin brought in a foodie friend from Boston to help freshen up the offerings of pub-style comfort food. No need to panic: shepherd’s pie is still around. So is the half-chicken. But the team has expanded the menu to include a daily pizza; fresh salsa made in house; four sandwiches, including an open-face mozzarella-and-roasted-red-pepper baguette with pesto and a balsamic reduction; a flank steak with roasted vegetables; a crab-and-avocado salad; and cold Szechuan noodles. The dessert menu will continue to rotate, but chef Kristen Hobbs’ Big-Ass Chocolate Chip Cookie with whipped cream and chocolate sauce will anchor the selection of sweets. 2038 Greenwood Ave., 226-6070
Out for blood
The Randy Rayburn Restaurants are bubbling over with energy and generosity this spring, as Cabana managing partner Craig Clifft and Midtown Café chefs Paul Ent and Richard Radford take on projects to help fight blood cancers leukemia and lymphoma.
On May 9, Cabana hosts an evening of wine, hors d’oeuvres, music and a silent auction from 5 to 9 p.m. The $25 admission will go toward Clifft’s campaign for Man of the Year. His quest for the title, which goes to the candidate who raises the most money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, is a labor of love, after his daughter was diagnosed at 22 months with leukemia.
“The Man and Woman of The Year Campaign is my way to give back to the organization that saved Cattie’s life,” Clifft says. For information, visit cabananashville.com.
Meanwhile, over at Rayburn’s Midtown Café, chefs Ent and Radford are getting in shape for the Memphis in May triathlon. In addition to running, biking and swimming, the contestants are soliciting contributions for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The race kicks off May 20 with a 0.9 mile swim, followed by a 25-mile bike ride and a six-mile run. “Craig approached me about it and said I’d never do it,” says Ent, who plans to compete alongside sous chef Radford—in matching chefs’ jackets. “But I’ve risen to the challenge...you should never challenge a Marine to anything.”
Cabana, 1910 Belcourt Ave., 577-2262. Midtown Café, 102 19th Ave. S., 320-7176.
If you haven’t discovered the First Harvest Café lunches at Second Harvest Food Bank, you’re in for a treat. And if you were starting to get into a rut with the six-week menu rotation, you’re in for a welcome change.
Every Friday, Second Harvest hosts an all-you-can-eat buffet showcasing a single ethnic theme. Ten bucks buys a bottomless plate in the shining demonstration kitchen at the organization’s MetroCenter headquarters, and all proceeds go to support Second Harvest’s programs to feed the hungry in Middle Tennessee.
Chef Mark Rubin, founder of the tony restaurants Finezza and Belle Meade Brasserie, cycles through a schedule of six themed menus including a Tex-Mex fajita bar, Tuscan Holiday, French Cruise, Cajun Salute and American Road House. He recently swapped out the Southeast Asian Journey for a wild-card menu that will include everything from Mediterranean-inspired cuisine to a German feast, based on Rubin’s culinary whim. The mystery meal will be posted at secondharvestnashville.org on the Tuesday before its scheduled turn in the six-week rotation. 331 Great Circle Road, 329-3491.
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