A recurring theme last year was that well-known restaurant spaces were reborn with worthy new tenants. On Thurman Avenue, South Village Grille has taken up the former home of Easy Street Café, a German Village staple for nearly three decades. Early signs indicate that the space is in good hands. Easy Street's kitschy and homey vibe has been transformed into classy but approachable digs, with leather-clad seats lining the marble bar, exposed brick, giant mirrors and rough-hewn barn siding covering the walls. Combine the new atmosphere with executive chef Josh Wiest's focused menu and a solid selection of cocktails, beers and creative takes on bar classics, and it adds up to a neighborhood newcomer that's already gathering regulars. Coming from the restaurant group that includes Local Cantina and Old Skool, South Village Grille has distinguished itself as the mature elder sibling in the trio with its seasonal lunch, dinner and brunch menus. Wiest (most recently executive chef of Westerville's short-lived 8 State Bistro) upgrades lunch classics through bites like the Croque Madame Toast with ham, caramelized onions and béchamel and the Short Rib Bolognese with bucatini pasta, crushed tomatoes and kale. His dinner menu spins old favorites like wings, meatballs and crab croquettes, but then takes off with roast chicken, pork chops, short ribs, seafood, pasta dishes and beyond.
Order Up: Chicken Vesuvio
This nod to Chicago features tender, bone-in thighs with crispy skin and a rich side of potatoes, peas, artichoke hearts and herbed wine sauce.