Downtown is on the way to becoming the city's dining destination, as I wrote for today's Weekend Magazine
. Of the three restaurants that were the focus of the piece -- Butcher and the Rye, Emporio! A Meatball Joint
and Grit & Grace
-- the Meat & Potatoes sibling will open soonest, at the month's end. For more on each restaurant, click here
"Space is as important to me as the food," said chef Rick DeShantz of Butcher and the Rye. He said he was consumed by designing the space, which includes details such as antique doorknobs for purse and coat hooks, old push-button wall switches and a restroom lock in the form of a spoon. Reclaimed lanterns take the place of candles on some tables and old-fashioned butcher-paper cutters are mounted on the ceiling of one wall, with rolls of papers cascading sheets to the molding.
Mr. DeShantz displays whimsy in his wallpapering the ceiling with a fork, knife and spoon motif in a room downstairs and accenting a wall with tin panels. A 1920s flag with 48 stars faces a window. Chicken wire serves as a backdrop where antique butchering tools hang in a glass case at the entrance and covers globe lighting in the downstairs dining room. Rabbit tracks mark the downstairs floor.
Tables out front crank to bar-height for later in the evening and downstairs doors make for a fluid indoor/outdoor space. Upstairs in the library area, six tables display portraits painted by different local artists and red leather chairs have been tagged by a graffiti artist.
There's a bit of a creepy factor, too, such as a skeleton of a rabbit on a library shelf and a big bear on its hind legs in the corner. "Once it came to mind, we had to find a damn bear."
These are just a handful of the visuals. Behold, some teaser photos until you see for yourselves.
Built-in shelving for 400 whiskeys and ryes await bottles. This chandelier above the downstairs bar is on a rope and pulley system, at the suggestion of Mr. DeShantz's brother.
Wallpaper downstairs is an 1890s replica with rabbits in the design. Upstairs, velvet-flocked birch tree wallpaper is on display up a set of stairs, while darker-flecked paper flanks a library wall.
Restrooms are marked by stag and doe portraits. Honeycomb tiles, antique sinks and mirrors are featured inside. An antique pull-toilet is in the men's room, while the women's duo stall is something to see for yourself.
The upstairs bar is for more intricate craft cocktails than the whisky bar downstairs. It features interesting accoutrements such as a Japanese ice-shaver, antique punch bowls and a row of cocktails on tap. Melissa McCart photos