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TRANSITIONS

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published March 6, 2014 at 2:32 a.m.

By now, you’ve likely read that noted chef Denis Seyer (Restaurant Jacques & Suzanne, Le Casse Croute, Alouette’s, Gypsy’s Grill & Bar) has returned to the Little Rock restaurant scene as chief consultant for RH Cuisine, which owns Cache, 425 President Clinton Ave. in Little Rock’s River Market District, and 1620 Savoy, 1620 Market St., in west Little Rock. “RH,” of course, is Rush Harding III, whose son Payne left 1620 Savoy to run Cache. Seyer, according to a news release, will “assist in strategy and menu development,” including a new 1620 dinner menu with chef Tim Morton that debuts March 17, or, says Seyer, maybe a little before.

Seyer, who established the original Restaurant 1620 with then-Continental Cuisine partner and former Jacques & Suzanne colleague Paul Bash, says the new menu will feature lighter, simpler dishes with an emphasis on seafood - “kind of French, but because I love Thai food, there will be scallops with Thai flavoring; I’m playing with the different curries, and some Caribbean flavor.”

“I’m more or less changing everything they have except some pasta dishes; I’m taking away some of those huge steaks they have.” The kitchen has had a somewhat heavy hand on many of its dishes, Seyer explains, and the dishes have had too many facets.

“This new generation of chefs, they think the more complicated it is, the more sophisticated you are,” he says. “With four ingredients you can be better.” He has also worked to increase the range of prices, adding some lower-price dishes, and reworked the wine list to also give it a wider price spread.

Seyer says he’s also doing some front-of-house training and will move back into the 1620 kitchen during the daytime to help prep; “some of the sauces I’ll make myself.”

Seyer left Jacques & Suzanne’s in 1980 to open Le Casse Croute in west Little Rock. It became Alouette’s in 1986, and Seyer converted it to the more casual Gypsy’s Grill & Bar in 2003. He closed Gypsy’s, which his son, Antoine, had been running for two years while Seyer pereconcentrated on Gus Harvey’s Island Grill in Grand Cayman Island, in January 2009.

As of March 2, 1620 Savoy resumed serving Sunday brunch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The menu features “well-known favorites Southern fried chicken, crab meat potato hash, famous traditional breakfast, as well as some new favorites,” according to a flier the restaurant sent out. The phone number: (501) 221-1620.

“Grab a bite or a late night cocktail” during the late-night happy hour, urges an announcement from Cregeen’s Irish Pub, 301 Main St., North Little Rock. It’s offered from 10 p.m. to closing (2 a.m. Monday-Friday, 1 a.m. Saturday, midnight Sunday). The phone number is (501) 376-7468 (PINT); the website, cregeens.com.

Bray Gourmet Deli & Catering, 323 Center St., Little Rock, has tweaked its menu and added a list of daily specials - $1 off the salad bar on Monday, Spicy Chicken Fajita Wrap on Tuesday, Taco Salad on Wednesday, Smoked Peppered Pastrami Deluxe sandwich on toasted jalapeno cornbread on Thursday and Chicken Quesadillas on Friday. Owner Chris Bray says they’re now offering lunch combos and added pickles to dine-in orders (formerly the only way to get one was to order to-go). The establishment is widening its office delivery and catering service: “Right now we will deliver for five plus people in the downtown area,” Bray says. The phone number is (501) 353-1045; the website, braygourmet.com.

Something called Cilantros Grill is moving into the Lakewood Village storefront, 2629 Lakewood Village Place, North Little Rock, that had been most recently Taste of India and before that a Chinese buffet. Thesign on the door lists hours as 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; nobody yet answers the listed phone number, (501) 812-0040. We’ll keep you posted.

Recently opened: Tortas Mexico, 1000 W. 37th St., North Little Rock, just off Camp Robinson Road, serving a full Mexican menu 9 a.m-10 p.m. daily. The phone number is (501) 771-1341.

And speaking of Mexican restaurants north of the river, Cancun, which had been operating out of a space at 1701 T.P. White Drive, Jacksonville, has reopened in the former Jacksonville Mexico Chiquito outlet, 1524 W. Main St., which closed in July. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is still (501) 985-3300.

A want-ad in Sunday’s paper seeks “reliable, hard-working people, dedicated to delivering outstanding service to our customers” at the new Little Rock outlet of the Jackson, Miss.-based Newk’s Eatery minichain, due to open in mid-March in the Park Avenue development at 314 S. University Ave. We’ll keep you posted.

Anthropologist James Veteto will give a talk titled “The Slaw and the Slow Cooked: Culture and Barbecue in the Mid-South,” noon March 14 in Sturgis Hall, Clinton School of Public Service, 1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. Veteto’s book of the same title, which he’ll sign after the talk, includes the James Beard American Classics-winning Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna in its search for divergent barbecue approaches. Admission is free; reserve a seat by calling (501) 683-5239 or emailing publicprograms@clintonschool.uasys.edu.

Five Pulaski Tech students will be competing March 18 against nine other teams, from Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin, for the 2014 American Culinary Federation Central Region Student Team Championship in St. Louis, part of the ACF Central Regional Conference, March 16-19. The winning team will advance to the national competition in Kansas City, Mo., July 25-29. Call (800) 624-9458 or visit acfchefs.org/events.

Has a restaurant opened - or closed - near you in the last week or so? Does your favorite eatery have a new menu? Is there a new chef in charge? Drop us a line. Call (501) 399-3667 or (501) 378-3513or send a note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 121 E. Capitol Ave., Little Rock,Ark. 72201. Send email to: eharrison@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 38 on 03/06/2014

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