Tinsel Town Toppings

Urban Bistro, the stunted Mediterranean concept chef Avner Samuel developed (with investors) in the defunct George Restaurant location, formerly the Riviera at Inwood and Lovers, closed August 24. Consilient Restaurants head Tristan Simon grabbed the assets (furniture, fixtures, equipment), scratched out a new long-term lease and will transform it into Fireside Pies come Thanksgiving. Recipe: Re-skinned exterior; Northern California rustic Napa farmhouse interior with a new kitchen; and some 4,000 Ben Franklin Federal Reserve notes to make it rise. Then: Run off to L.A. There, Simon will join with Mavericks and Landmark Theatre head Mark Cuban (along with pal in Landmark crime Todd Wagner) to open Westside Tavern, a 10,700-square-foot anchor restaurant in the newly renovated Westside Pavilion retail development. Westside will serve upscale, chef-driven "tavern" cuisine by crafty ADD culinarian Nick Badovinus and act as a counterpoint for the Pavilion's $20 million Landmark Theatre.

Late of the Green Room and Kitchen 1924, with a transitional phase at Tucker, Colleen O'Hare is in the kitchen at Café Toulouse on Knox Street. "They brought me in to kind of finesse the food," she says. Good thing, as Toulouse has burned through some five chefs since opening. O'Hare plans unravel a new menu this month, freshening the spins on its bistro fare: seared diver scallops with fava bean and sweet corn succotash in champagne beurre blanc for instance. Toulouse even shut down last week for a kitchen overhaul to help finesse the finessing...After 35 years of slinging bistro food and popping corks, Kathy McDaniel and Charlotte Parker are taking a permanent breather from The Grape. Former The Grape executive chef Brian Luscher will resuscitate. Luscher, who most recently cooked at TPC Craig Ranch golf club, was named Avid Golfer magazine's Best Private Club Chef in Dallas-Fort Worth this year and who was credited with putting the defunct Routh Street Brewery & Grill on the map with his Hill Country cuisine, has bundled a cadre of 10 investors to take over the restaurant October 1. An official "passing of the torch" shindig October 26 will follow, marking the restaurant and wine bar's 35th anniversary. Luscher says the takeover began some two months ago after he and wife Courtney scratched out a business plan to develop a restaurant in East Dallas. Then he got a call from Parker and McDaniel. "They said, 'Hey, we heard you've been kickin' some tires, and we'd love to talk to you,'" he says. Luscher says he'll make only superficial changes to the classic Lower Greenville Avenue restaurant, often named Dallas' most romantic spot.

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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz

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