Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First Look: Pura Vida

I attended an invitation only kick-off party last night for Pura Vida, Chef Brandt Evans’ new restaurant downtown on Public Square. The last time I was there, at the end of September, it was all sawdust and hanging wires. Wearing hard hats, Evans and I sidestepped workmen and piles of 2 X 4s as he outlined his vision for a hip happening place that could go from early morning breakfast to happy hour, changing character and ambience with the time of day.

He planned to cure and smoke his own bacon, make butter, age cheese and serve what he described as “fun, sexy, push-the-envelope, but not too far, food.” Now, at last, he’s ready to go and it’s an exciting time for him and for all the rest of us.

The name Pura Vida has multiple meanings — Live Today, Not Tomorrow, To Life, a kind of salutation equivalent to Cheers or Salut, and Pure Living, as in good and wholesome. A reggae musician friend, he told the crowd, used it as a message sign off and Brandt felt like it captured the essence of what he wants this spot to be.

The restaurant is in the same building as Tri-C’s new Hospitality Management Center in the former May Company. The dining room is dramatic, all white with black and gray accents. There’s a bar, open kitchen, a long communal table, a section of seating that can be “privatized by a metal mesh curtain and big doors opening onto a Euclid Avenue patio. 26,000 LED lights create shifting moods with color splashed on white fabric panels suspended from the ceiling -- picture sails or clouds illuminated by sunrise and sunset palettes.

The place opens to the public June 6, serving breakfast, lunch, and early evening snacks. Dinner service will be added down the road. High quality, high concept take out food is an important part of what Evans is doing here and there are two coolers for his grab and go items. If the dishes we sampled are representative of the menu to come, diners are in for some very very good eating.

This venture, the first under the operating umbrella BKM Culinary Concepts, is the chef and entrepreneur’s fifth restaurant opening in six years and a step in another direction. He began with Blue Canyon in Twinsburg, and turned that concept into a multi-unit, multi-state restaurant group.

Surrounded by the latest expression of his creative thinking and boundless energy yesterday I remembered that Brandt once told me that in high school he was the underachiever nobody thought would amount to much. He’s been proving them wrong ever since. I suspect that with Pura Vida he’s going to do it again in a big way.


Bite Buff said...

Great! Looking forward to checking it out when it opens.

Anonymous said...

Aptly named. Since that food will pretty much Guarantee you won't live much past today.

Jenny said...

*26,000 LED lights! There is a wide variety of food choices on the menu, from hearty and savory, to light and lean! Anonymous- Nothing will harm you like a bad attitude will! Come in and enjoy the wonderful dishes Chef Scott has created!

Anonymous said...

Perfect place to sit on the terrace, people watch and enjoy a glass of wine and duck nachos.

Amanda Liott