Nana’s owner/chef Scott Howell and his wife, Aubrey Zinaich-Howell, have teamed up with Daniel Sartain to open Bar Virgile in downtown Durham. Named after Howell’s grandfather, the restaurant and bar’s Facebook page teases with the deceptively modest slogan, “hand made snacks & artfully crafted beverages.”
The partners have hired Carrie Schleiffer, most recently chef at the gastropub G2B, to render “hand made snacks” as a menu strongly influenced by French bistro cuisine. In addition to reviving classics such as burgundy snails and frog legs Provençale, Scheiffer is offering an assortment of sandwiches griddled on house-baked brioche. A selection of cheeses and charcuterie includes house-made sausages, patés and terrines.
As for the “artfully crafted beverages,” Sartain — a former manager at Nana’s who has taken on the dual role of partner/GM and bar manager at the new venture — has developed a list of classic cocktails that covers the bases from Daiquiri to Sazerac, with the occasional surprise in the form of drinks such as the Ramos Fin Fizz, that are seldom seen nowadays. Rounding out the liquid assets side of the ledger is a concise but well-curated selection of beers, apéritfs and wines put together by Aubrey Zinaich-Howelll.
Bar Virgile (105 S. Mangun St.; 919-973-3000) is open Monday-Wednesday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Thursday-Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. The website ( barvirgile.com) isn’t live yet, but you can find them on Facebook.