Thursday, October 16, 2008

Coming Soon: Euphoria!

"So, is there going to be a sign?" It was my first question to Chef Brad Gates when I met him at the Bugg's Temple building. We stood outside on a chilly day not unlike his opening a year ago, but so much different. First, he showed me where large signs for both Creation Cafe and the new restaurant, Euphoria, will wrap around the window on the west side of the building. Then he mentioned valet parking, the new menu, overhauled wine list, new front of house staff, and updated decor. Finally.

When former owner Chuck Mack sent out a notice in early September that they were closing Tavern at the Temple -- the top floor restaurant space -- most of Indy's food community breathed a sigh of relief. Many also asked about the fate of Brad Gates. Gates, an experienced NYC chef who ran Danny Meyer's famous Union Square Cafe for years, had been working in the kitchen with no influence on the most visible parts of the restaurant. Without a more complete vision, everything suffered, even the food. For a chef who's worked alongside some of the nation's best known names, it had to be frustrating. Food lovers and chefs alike wanted to see him use his talent. With Euphoria, he's got his chance.

Last year, Lynn Shepherd, Sandy Schimmel and Amy Hornsby took over the lower floor space and turned it into Creation Cafe, now a favorite stop for the lunch crowd. With Tavern closing, the same team had the first option to lease the upstairs space and they jumped at it. They also jumped at keeping Brad. Schimmel, Gates, and Adam Cornelius will work together as a team to ensure everything comes together.

What to expect from the new Euphoria? Even with extensive renovations last year, the room always had a slightly unfinished feel. The low, clubby Athletic Club chairs give the room a dated, old-school look. When they reopen, you'll find new art, upholstery, chairs, and even tablecloths to lighten the space. They'll finish out the private dining room on the west side and highlight the round Chef's Table in the main room. Glassware (yes! They have it now!) will be plentiful, Gates' says, and look for an entirely new wine list featuring the best that small, boutique distributors have to offer. (Adam, who recently sat the Master Court introductory exam with us, is the only remaining front of house staff.) Gates is already deep into staff training starting with the basics of seasonal ingredients. "If a customer says they want Brussels sprouts, I want a server to know when we're most likely to have them."

The menu is new but includes some old favorites (the suckling pig, mussels, and calamari) and new features (wild striped bass, yellow fin tuna, and a shrimp curry.) He's added six new steaks and wants to emphasize he's the kind of chef who can improvise. "If someone wants mixed vegetables, or a tasting menu, or whatever, we can do that. They should just ask."

Good news! He's bringing back the cheese list! Right now, he has 21 cheeses from $1.75-3.25 a portion with many that are far from the same old thing. (Robiola Bosina, 5-year Extra Aged Gouda, Humboldt Fog, or Brillat-Saverin Affine, Gorgonzola Dolce, or Old Kentucky Tomme, anyone?) If anyone can make a cheese course cool again, Gates can.

Look for his menu to change often. Look for valet parking. Look for a new, professional, trained attitude when it comes to service and bar staff. Look for many a long, winters evening with a multi-course tasting menu at the Chef's Table. All-in-all Euphoria has all the early marks of finally coming in to what we all hoped it would be. It's been a long wait.

Euphoria soft-launches October 21 with a $20-a-head benefit party. They'll continue with informal events through Halloween (and a planned Creation Cafe/Euphoria joint bash) with a hard open November 8.

1 comment:

jackson said...

Great post braingirl...i just finished my new blog on euphoria (check it out) after stopping by there and seeing the new vision for the restaurant...looks quite promising!!