Nick Badovinus, the restauranteur behind Neighborhood Services and Off-Site Kitchen, announced last week that he was planning a new restaurant, Town Hearth, in the Design District, featuring open-hearth cooking and plenty of seafood and steaks. The announcement got everyone dreaming about what Badovinus' latest restaurant idea would look like. It also had us wondering what the hell open-hearth cooking was. Were we ready for cast-iron Dutch ovens filled with cornbread sitting on hot coals?
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Badovinus' Town Hearth is going to be considerably less Little House on the Prairie. Picture a massive grill dedicated to beef on one side of an oven and a massive grill dedicated to fish on the other -- all of it, oven included, fired by wood. You can almost see a cook searing a big hunk of meat over the zipping embers of a roaring fire before he tosses it into the oven to finish. Maybe there's a little compound butter.
All this ironwork will be installed so that the chef can get in touch with his long-lost childhood. Badovinus says he got his start cooking over the charcoal embers of a Weber grill. Tow Hearth will be "all about the essentials," he said: "salt, pepper and dead flesh over an old flame."
Badovinus' company, Flavor Hook, is responsible for two Neighborhood Services Restaurants with a third on the way, and the burger-centric Off-Site Kitchen that will spawn a second location expected to open mid-summer. His NHS Tavern-turned-Tried and True closed last year. The best news about Town Hearth is that it will resurrect Badovinus' extensive brown liquor menu. Peppery rye all around!
The bad news is none of this will be available till this time next year. Badovinus is building the new restaurant from the ground up and is expecting a March 2015 opening.