Vacant since Le Cou Rouge closed last fall, the restaurant space at the curve of Bandywood Drive just behind Grace's Plaza in Green Hills will soon be accepting lunch and dinner reservations again. The new restaurant and proprietor will be a tad more familiar to Nashvillians than Le Cou Rouge, which was owned by Richard Graham of West Tennessee and fused traditional Southern ingredients with classic French cooking techniques.
Curt Cole grew up here and went to work for Houston's, which eventually sent him to the tony Georgetown neighborhood in Washington, D.C., to open an outlet of the locally grown national chain. Later, he came back to Nashville and with John Petrucelli opened Midtown Cafe in 1988. Five years later, he sold his share of Midtown and moved back to Washington to open Roadhouse, a casual restaurant that esteemed Washington Post food critic Phyllis Richman named one of the area's top 50 restaurants. He sold that on Dec. 31, 2000, and once again came back home with the goal of opening another restaurant here. Last week he signed the lease on the Cou Rouge building.
The 85-seat restaurantwhich will serve lunch weekdays, dinner six nights a week and brunch on Sundaywill be called Deer Park Grille, after the Belle Meade street where Cole's grandparents and parents lived. Though the kitchen is fully equipped and ready to go, he's currently repainting, reupholstering and recarpeting the dining rooms and small bar in warm earth tones. The menu will be simple but eclectic, with an emphasis on grilled foods, and with no entrée over $20.
“We are not trying to teach anyone to eat, but we do want to stimulate the palate,” Cole says. “We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we want to do all the little things that build a regular, loyal clientele.” Serving as chef will be Culinary Institute of America grad Todd Gilliam. Deer Park Grille is scheduled to open March 1.
Brewing in 12 South
The 12 South neighborhood lost a food service resident recently with the closing of Natalie's Coffee House at the corner of Kirkwood and 12th Avenue South. But Portland Brew, the Sylvan Park neighborhood coffee shop, will soon open its second store next door to The Iron Gate at the corner of Sweetbriar and 12th Avenue South, across from Becker's Bakery.
Brandon and Tracy Stakelbeck moved to Portland, Ore., from Kentucky. There, says Brandon, “We fell in love with coffee and wanted to open a small shop of our own.” Portland hardly needed another coffee shop, so the couple moved to Nashville, where they had friends in the music industry. They opened Portland Brew nearly three years ago in the now bustling curve of Murphy Road that also boasts Caffe Nonna and Park Café.
“National chains like Starbucks tend to open in highly trafficked, high-profile areas,” Brandon notes. “We strongly believe in neighborhoods and in providing a gathering place for members of that community. We live in the 12 South neighborhood, and so do most of our friends, so it is nice to be close to home.”
After opening, the Sylvan Park Portland Brew eventually added soups and hot sandwiches to its menu of breakfast breads, pastries, specialty coffees and teas. That's also the plan for the new store. The Stakelbecks have also begun roasting their own beans in an outbuilding next to the original store. That operation will move to the 12 South store when it opens in mid-February. The building, which most recently housed an architectural firm, is divided in two. The right side will house the roaster; the left will be the retail space and coffee shop, comfortably furnished to inspire neighbors to loll about over a cup of coffee and the paper.
Send restaurant news and other dining-related tips to Kay West at firstname.lastname@example.org.