Local talent revamping former Café Rani

00:00 November 27, 2012
By: 2Fik
[Courtesy of Annene von Durchgerockt]

Geoffrey Wilson and Jonathan Lestingi, along with owner Justus Jagger and Michelle MacMahon, are the latest local team to revamp a restaurant space - the venture, yet unnamed, will open at the former Café Rani by mid-December. "We'll be a bridge between a cocktail bar and a restaurant," says Jonathan, who honed his fine-dining chops at Stella and will be the executive chef here.

The farm-to-table restaurant will source locally, though its most interesting appeal is having two distinct menus: a daily brunch that runs well into the afternoon, and a late-night dinner menu.

Geoffrey, well-known in local cocktail circles for crafting simple, elegant drinks, has written two cocktail lists as well. On the brunch side, he's created a Breakfast Cocktail flip, featuring rye whiskey, premium maple syrup, a whole egg and bitters, served with a slice of bacon. The daytime drinks include classics like the mimosa and bloody mary, as well as this year's aperitif darling, the Aperol Spritz.

The dinner cocktail list is loaded with classics, too, like the Aviation and Bittered Sling, as well as Geoffrey's margarita variation (yellow Chartreuse stands in for the triple sec) and other specialty drinks.

The bar's ice program means ice balls in your Old-Fashioned and long cubes in your Collins. If you stray from cocktails, the restaurant will offer wines by the glass and a craft beer menu.

On the food side, Jonathan's brunch will focus on fresh-baked breads (Maple Street Bakery's challah will anchor the French toast), a pickle program (kimchi will pair with bacon and lettuce in a twist on the BLT), and include healthier options and locally-sourced salads, in a nod to the former Café Rani's sprawling list.

A brief but diverse and ever-changing evening menu will include seafood classics like oysters and shrimp and grits.

While we won't be able to pull up to the bar in the near future (Geoffrey says it will function primarily as a service bar), there are plans to build out a bigger bar and deepen the culinary cocktail program.

"That's when I'll get to geek out," says Geoffrey.

The still unnamed restaurant will open mid-December at 2917 Magazine Street, and offer daily brunch from 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., and dinners daily 5 p.m. - midnight.

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