Don't blink, the downtown area dining scene is morphing again. A pair of downtown stalwarts that includes the venerable Cork are passing the torch to a new generation of restaurateurs. Rumors that Cork would be closing have been circulating quietly for sometime and owner Carin Cameron appears to have found a buyer.
According to the grapevine, the fine dining restaurant and wine bar will be reopened as the area's first not-for profit restaurant. Stay tuned for more details on the concept. In the meantime, Cork customers had a chance to bid farewell to Cameron and Co. after nine years in downtown this past weekend when the restaurant served its last meals on Saturday night. Just around the corner, well, sort of, another downtown dining and nightlife staple is also changing over. The brown paper sheets are hanging in the windows of what was formerly 28 as new owner Corey Donovan puts the finishing touches on Tart Bistro. Donovan recently bought the restaurant, located in St. Clair Place, at the corner of Bond and Minnesota, from the owners of Zydeco, Steve and Cherie Helt. Tart, which Donovan is describing as a French globally inspired eatery, is forecast to open its doors later this month.
Downtown isn't the only spot where change is afoot. The restaurant merry-go-round has spun again in the Mill Quarter area where the newly established Northwest Urban Grill has taken over the space recently occupied by the Old Mill Grill, but was most readily associated with the prior tenant, Fireside Red. Location isn't the only connection between NW Urban Grill and Fireside, former manager Peter Keenan is again at the helm. But that's where the similarities end. The new menu, which was put together by chef Timothy Nelson formerly of Ashland's Winchester Inn and the Ritz Carlton, is steeped in robust Northwest-inspired flavors. Marketing Director (and evening bartender) Ryan Mortimore described the menu as progressive Northwest style cuisine that will draw heavily on regional and sustainable ingredients. In addition to entrees like Nelson's Butternut Squash Ravioli ($15) and grass-fed Filet Mignon ($27), the restaurant, which opened last week, features a strong line-up of small plates like lobster mac and cheese ($12) that are best enjoyed on the restaurant's expansive patio.