City + State, a new, upscale-casual restaurant east of Broadway on NE 6th, opens Thursday, Sept. 30 for dinner service. Brunch service begins Saturday and Sunday. Owner Basil Rayan, an attorney by profession before launching into hospitality, said the original plan was conceived before COVID and the subsequent staffing shortage, so the scale of the restaurant seems to be a throwback to happier days.
“We have just under 11,000 square feet including the patios,” Rayan said. “That does sound like a pre-COVID plan, because it was.”
The new restaurant has five main indoor seating areas: two dining and a bar downstairs and a lounge and bar upstairs. Patios are available on both floors, and Rayan said the upstairs patio will likely be the preferred brunch spot for good weather days.
“Other than brunch, we’re not planning on serving food upstairs,” he said. “The stairs make it hard on our servers and food runners, so it’s best to keep it a lounge for now. We will have some bar bites, though.”
Those bites hopefully will include the fried pepperonis and Philly cheesesteak egg rolls on executive chef Kari Clark-Garrett’s menu. She’s aveteran of large kitchens, including Mary Eddy’s, where she worked on Chef Jason Campbell’s brigade, and early tastes of the food indicate she has a winner with her eclectic, modern American mix of small plates, salads, appetizers, and entrees.
Standouts include inexplicably delicious crispy cauliflower with garlic aioli—it might be the best thing on the menu, honestly—St. Louis ribs with fig compote and pickled serranos, and shrimp and andouille pasta, which is also in the running for best thing. Dinner options include a salmon and chorizo dish and a beautiful, hearty New York strip with leeks in potato puree. The charcuterie tray is a stellar, and on the brunch menu, the star is the chicken and waffle with bacon-onion butter.
Rayan was in real estate development before he attended law school, and he’d been looking for a great building to repurpose for years when he discovered the property next to The Parlor. In addition to repurposing the City + State space, he’s also remodeled the adjoining spot just east, but has no immediate plans for a facility that—in terms of size—could easily accommodate a music venue or brewery.