Downtown Carys appeal as a dining destination got noticeably brighter this week when Academy Street Bistro (200 S. Academy St.; 919-377-0509; academystbistro.com) opened for the first time.
The restaurant is the first venture for owner/chef Brian Fitzgerald, a Culinary Institute of America grad who cut his culinary teeth in New York (including Maxims and, most recently, the Harvard Club).
Fitzgerald has given the former Klaras space a fresh new look (but wisely kept the attractive patio), setting a suitably upscale-casual mood for his French-inflected contemporary menu.
But dont take French-inflected to mean stuffy or tradition-bound. Mixed in among the likes of goujonette of lemon sole, roasted vegetable Napoleon, diver scallops with carrot ginger puree, and grilled sirloin steak with truffled twice-baked potatoes, youll also find a cheeseburger.
Granted, the cheese is Vermont white cheddar, and its served on a brioche bun with caramelized onions, applewood-smoked bacon and a side of classic fries. But still.
The wine-list is appropriately bistro-sized: a dozen or so by the glass, and a handful by the bottle. The taps that once dispensed Czech beers at Klaras are now, for the most part, devoted to local brews.
Academy Street is open for dinner only, Tuesday-Saturday. Fitzgerald plans to add lunch service in two weeks, followed a couple of weeks later by Sunday brunch.
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