Bastille blip

Hash Over

It would have been fitting. But Whit Meyers of the Entertainment Collaborative (Green Room, Gypsy Tea Room) says the hoped-for opening of their brasserie Jeroboam on Bastille Day (July 14) most likely won't roll. The sticky wicket appears to be a small piece of air-conditioning equipment that has yet to arrive for installation. "It's always one of a million things," says Meyers, briefly mentioning his love for city inspectors and airflow contractors. "And if it isn't the millionth, it's the 999,999th." But that's OK. Meyers says the Entertainment Collaborative also plans to open a sexy subterranean lounge around the end of the year in a downtown building next to Neiman Marcus. Tentatively called Umlaut, the bar will be marked only by pair of dots on the side door.

Mixed hash

Venus Steak House & Supper Club owner Shelly Dowdy has secured replacements for executive chef Mark Moberly and sous chef Alexander Kybett, who left the restaurant suddenly after its June 6 opening. "They just decided both of them to move," says Venus General Manager Karim Alaoui. "I guess the opening was overwhelming for them." Alfredo Vazquez, who has sizzled steaks at Ruth's Chris outlets in Dallas, Cancun, and Mexico City, has taken the executive chef slot, while Julio Sanchez has moved up from the Venus kitchen line to sous chef...Mattito's Café Mexicano, a Tex-Mex-tequila emporium with locations in Addison and Dallas, is set to move into the Routh Street Brewery space August 1 after vacating its Oak Lawn location. Mattito's Executive Chef Fabian Gonzalez, formerly of Mi Piaci, The Mansion, The Westin Park Central, and the defunct Deep Ellum brewpub Moon Under Water, has revamped the menu not only for Mattito's, but for Ay Carumba!, a new Mattito's sibling launched in Plano. Both restaurants are shoved under the corporate umbrella We 8 It Food Group, formed after restaurateur Jeffrey Frankel bought out his Mattito's partners last February. Ay Carumba!, sort of a Mattito's light with a stripped-down tequila selection (50 instead of 170), was developed to spread the basic Mattito's concept outside of Dallas.

List watch

California winegrape acreage surged 9 percent in 1999 to 554,000 acres according to Wine Institute, a trade group representing California wineries. Top California variety plantings include Chardonnay at 102,568 acres, Cabernet at 62,734; Zinfandel at 51,811; and Merlot at 47,638.

Mark Stuertz

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