After more than a year of delays, the Meadowlark Kitchen quietly opened its doors two weeks ago to little fanfare. The small eatery next door to the popular underground bar and music venue, the Meadowlark, originally announced the beginning of construction in September of 2013, but contractor delays pushed the opening date to the end of 2014. Co-owner Casey Karns says he's not planning to hold a grand opening until spring, when the restaurant can open its patio.
Meadowlark Kitchen's dinner menu features a seasonal rotation from executive chef and co-owner Joshua Bitz, which Karns describes as vegetarian and protein entrees with some gluten-free options; the current winter menu includes a kale salad, a grilled wedge salad, fried oysters and a smoked merlot brisket. Bitz's signature Meadowlark burger -- with an onion ring, poached egg, candied bacon and cheddar sauce on a house-made brioche roll -- will stay on the menu all year.
Karns and Bitz bring more than 36 combined years of experience to the Meadowlark Kitchen. Karns managed Baker Street Pub and Casa Bonita and helped open the Dive Inn, while Bitz put in time as sous chef at the Squeaky Bean.
Baked goods, including the brioche buns for the hamburgers, will be made in-house by baker Maya Tull-Thompson, who has previously supplied bread forEuclid Hall, Bistro Vendome and Rioja. The cocktail menu was created by bar manager Billy Tickle, who worked with Karns for years at Baker Street Pub and recently spent time behind the bar at Humboldt.
The new restaurant is unmarked on the outside except for a subtle steel Meadowlark logo above the door -- the same as the bar next door. Loy Merck, owner of the bar, has partnered with Karns and Bitz to allow them to use the Meadowlark name and logo. Karns says additional signage isn't likely to appear, since the small, 37-seat dining room has been filling easily.
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The restaurant's patio, built by Karns and Bitz last summer, was being used by the Meadowlark bar, but now that the restaurant is open, the shared pathway is closed, which will allow more seating for the restaurant during the warmer months. Meadowlark Kitchen is open for dinner daily from 4 p.m. to midnight, with a latenight menu from midnight to 2 a.m.