By Jim Duncan CVFDude@aol.com
Kitchen is back in Beaverdale.
Previously incarnated as Chef's
Corner Kitchen, the restaurant
closed for most of the past year
while Steve and Kristi Little
moved a block north, trading their
middle name for three times the
seating and parking. While they
were out of business, though,
we heard from customers who were
convinced that a conspiracy was
afoot to deprive the neighborhood
of the good family values the
Little's joint represents.
In Beaverdale, the neighborhood
watch keeps an eye on its menus.
Restaurants follow a model created
at Christopher's - start with
a Cheers-type bar and expand gradually
into larger sit-down operations.
Cooney's, Michael's, A.K. O'Connor's
and now Chef's have followed the
Steve, a.k.a. Ben, is one of
the best chefs in town. His kitchen
at Winston's provides business
lunches that civic types brag
about. His catering company is
neighborhoods demand traditional
dishes, and menus can only be
so long. So the Littles are opening
with two menus. One emulates the
Corner Kitchen concept of family
fare with pizza, sandwiches, pasta,
a kid's $6 menu, a few of Steve's
most popular appetizers and a
short list of entrees all south
of the $20 plateau. A second steakhouse
menu is accommodated by an expanded
cooler that allows aging and in-house
meat cutting, which holds the
price line at $26.
Several menu items are legends,
at least in Beaverdale. The steak
de Burgo is back and comes from
Johnny's Vets Club, which Little
owned before the floods of 1993.
It's "the creamy version"
that has a legion of followers.
Hash brown casserole is available
as an entre ($3.50) or as
a dinner side ($1.95 surcharge).
The burgers, led by the cheese-and-onion-stuffed
"Benny," have been called
the "best in town" by
this paper. (Little tinkers with
his grills to produce high flames
for searing.) The New England-style
clam chowder is a city heirloom,
copied by several other places.
And the cookie jar on the bar
provides superb, complimentary
Little's calamari detoured from
the typical route, sauted
in olive oil with fresh spinach,
roasted garlic and tomatoes. We
loved his crispy salmon cakes,
served in hefty portions of three
cakes, accompanied by a pile of
slivered Romaine and given a Cajun
style bonder and served with remoulade
that played fiddle.
We know of no other pasta in
town that has the word-of-mouth
advertising that accompanies Chef's
tortellini, which is tossed in
a signature garlic cream sauce
(full blood brother to the de
Burgo) with prosciutto, smoked
chicken, roasted peppers, green
onions and pesto. The same sauce
stars on his fettucine Alfredo,
of which there are several versions.
Pizza is served in accommodating
sizes, making it an appetizer
option. Like the breads, these
pies are made from scratch and
have marvelous texture from the
thin-crust school. The chicken
margherita used some of the best
sun-dried tomatoes around with
the same chicken that takes the
tortellini to its hallowed status.
Little is experimenting with
some authentic hickory barbecue,
made off premises in the neighborhood.
We tried a dry prime rib that
had a perfect smoke ring and born-again
flavors. It was a special, but
BBQ ribs are available daily.
Salads were virtual salad bars,
with several kinds of sweet pepper,
cherry peppers, radishes, cukes,
cabbage, multiple greens, tomatoes,
onions and a pile of provolone.
Homemade desserts included a flourless
torte and crme brulee, plus
cheesecake from their neighbor,
Flarah's. The short wine list
is also family priced. Our only
complaint is the lack of baffling
which can produce annoying din
when the place is busy. CV
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