A veteran team has joined forces to create an exciting new neighborhood restaurant — or perhaps more accurately, the new version of an old restaurant.
Chef Greg Gordon quietly threw open the doors to the new Lazybrook/Timbergrove location of La Vista 101 last week. Although it had been a favorite of Briargrove residents for almost 20 years, the new La Vista offers a fresh vision of Gordon’s cuisine thanks to involvement of new talent in the former of general manager Jeb Stuart (formerly with Coltivare) and executive chef J.D. Woodward (formerly with Southern Goods).
“I truly felt that it was time for me to evolve, because I felt like I was getting passed up a little bit,” Gordon tells CultureMap. “The newness of La Vista was not happening. My client base was aging at the same rate as I was, and I wasn’t getting the younger people. This was a huge thought process of mine.”
Although Stuart is new to La Vista, Gordon’s history with him goes back to the days when the two of them cooked together at the Daily Review Cafe. Since La Vista was BYOB, it didn’t offer Stuart the opportunity he was seeking 20 years ago, but the new project proved sufficiently enticing to lure him away from Coltivare.
“I love the opportunity to create a neighborhood restaurant for Lazybrook/Timbergrove Manor that they can hang their hats on and have a place for them to explore new things,” Stuart says. “Certainly it was a difficult decision, because there has probably never been a better time in my professional career than being at Coltivare. I look forward to the challenges of opening this new place and creating a new neighborhood restaurant.”
Stuart also introduced Gordon to Woodward. The two chefs quickly discovered they had similar views on food and cooking. They’ve spent the last year developing the new menu that features updates on La Vista favorites — the filet swaps the old port wine-cherry sauce for bone marrow butter and a new pizza dough that works better with the restaurant’s Wood Stone brand oven — as well as new dishes designed to appeal to the next generation of diners. For example, a new pappardelle pasta incorporates mint, goat cheese, wild mushrooms, and a smoked tomato confit. The menu’s “harvest” section offers eight composed vegetable dishes that go beyond sides to be compelling choices by themselves.
“What we wanted to do was take what [Gordon] had and move it forward but still preserving himself in the menu and in the cuisine. We’ve worked together for the last year to bring that to fruition,” Woodward says. “The collaboration is essential. Everybody at this table (Gordon and Stuart) has been a cook. I’d be a fool not to utilize all of that knowledge. It’s a great resource that I have.”
While the old La Vista was BYOB, the new restaurant has a full beverage program. Stuart has developed a wine list focused on food friendly vintages from Western Europe that he hopes encourages diners to go beyond familiar favorites and towards new discoveries. Bar manager Morgan Mansur’s (formerly with Caracol) cocktails offer creative twists on classics.
All of that eating and drinking takes places in a setting that looks like nothing like the Pizza Hut it replaced. Designer Carl Eaves (Liberty Kitchen, Alice Blue) incorporated elements from Gordon’s tattoos into the space’s wallpaper, with an overall look that aims to be comfortable and a little whimsical.
All together, the goal is to provide Lazybrook/Timbergrove with a neighborhood restaurant that’s as much of a staple as the original La Vista was in Briargrove or Coltivare is in the Heights. If nothing else, Gordon and his crew recognize the challenge ahead of them.
“We have a vision of where we want to be. It’s going to be a rough, slow road, but we are committed to it,” Gordon says. “We’re going to try to perfect what we can do. We want to give the best that we can.”
La Vista 101; 1805 W 18th St.; 713-787-9899; Tuesday through Thursday 5 pm to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday 5 pm to 11 pm; Sunday 5 pm to 9 pm. Lunch and brunch hours to follow.