August 6, 2014

Chef Scott Howell to open steakhouse at American Tobacco

Durham chef Scott Howell, who owns Nana’s and Nanataco, will add a third restaurant to the Durham dining scene next year.

Durham chef Scott Howell announced Wednesday that he is expanding his restaurant group to open a steakhouse at American Tobacco Campus, tentatively scheduled to open next spring.

Nanasteak will occupy a 4,600-square-foot space in the same American Tobacco building as a yet-to-open Aloft hotel. The space has 26-foot ceilings, glass walls and a view of the the Durham Performing Arts Center and downtown Durham. The steakhouse will have indoor and outdoor seating for 180 customers

Howell, 51, who owns Nana’s and Nanataco, also in Durham, is so excited about the new space. “It’s a privilege to do a restaurant there,” he said. “It’s that special.”

Howell said the restaurant will offer choice-grade beef, cooked over mesquite charcoal and rested before being served. Using good quality choice meat, instead of prime, Howell explained will enable the restaurant to keep prices reasonable. Unlike typical steakhouses, prices will not be a la carte. Steaks will come with one side.

For those who want to pay a little more, Howell said, the restaurant will be aging its own prime rib (those will be displayed in a refrigerated case with a window near the restaurant’s front door.) As a throwback to old school steakhouses, Howell said, waiters will wheel a cart bearing one of those prime ribs to a table where customers can tell waitstaff how big and thick they want their steak cut.

Beyond steaks, the restaurant will offer grilled seafood and fish, which also will be cooked over mesquite charcoal. The restaurant kitchen also will have a French rotisserie, which will cook duck, quail and chicken.

The restaurant also will serve lunch and offerings will include prime rib sandwiches, grilled chicken sandwiches and hamburgers with house-ground meat.

Nanasteak also will have an extensive wine and cocktail list overseen by Howell’s business partners, two longtime Nana’s employees and brothers Brad and Graham Weddington and his wife, Aubrey Zinaich-Howell, who has worked in the wine business for years. Zinaich-Howell is the operations manager for all of Howell’s restaurants.

Also on the horizon for Howell, a new restaurant and cocktail bar called Bar Virgile, which will open in a 1,000-square foot space at the corner of Main and Mangum streets in downtown Durham. Again Howell is partnering with two employees, mixologist Brad Farran and Daniel Sartain.

The focus of Bar Virgile is cocktails but there will be a small, well-equipped kitchen that will serve housemade frankfurters, sausages, pates, terrines, some imported meats and local and imported cheeses. Howell hopes to open Bar Virgile later this year.

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This blog's focus is all things food in the Triangle: where to dine, where to shop, what to eat, what to cook. Food writer Andrea Weigl maintains this blog.

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