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Friday, February 10, 2012

Johnny V’s open Uptown

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 4:35 PM

It’s been a long time coming, but Johnny V’s (6106 Magazine St., 899-4880) is now open Uptown, serving dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

The new restaurant is a partnership between former Café Degas chef Ryan Hughes and former Clancy’s Restaurant manager Johnny Vodanovich, who also runs Monkey Hill Bar just next door.

“My style is always rooted in classical French, but here I think we’ve upped the ante, making it more contemporary,” says Hughes.

First courses like steamed mussels with frites, escargot, charcuterie plates and shrimp remoulade may sound familiar enough, and the menu includes bistro classics, like hanger steak with frites, and doses of Creole flavor, like speckled trout meuniere.

But things branch out quite a bit from there. The fricassée of Mississippi rabbit and shiitake mushrooms has rosemary gnocchi, rabbit belly croquettes and kohlrabi, the Dijon-crusted lamb rack is served with a Chinese black rice cake and mint edamame, and the confit of duck leg gets a satsuma marmalade glaze and a black pepper broth with braised bok choy. At dessert, the ginger crème brûlée has twice-fried plantains and the almond pound cake has goat cheese ice cream.

In line with the approach he took at Café Degas, Hughes has also been preparing many different specials at Johnny V’s.

“We’re been running between eight and 10 (specials) a night,” Hughes says.

He certainly has more room to stretch his style at the new restaurant. Hughes had a hand in designing the kitchen for Johnny V’s, which stands in roomier contrast to the famously-cramped galley kitchen he manned at Café Degas.

“I had four burners and one oven Degas, here I have 14 burners and seven ovens,” Hughes says.

Johnny V’s is closely entwined with the neighboring Monkey Hill Bar. The restaurant uses the bar at Monkey Hill Bar for its drinks service, for instance, while Hughes plans to soon introduce a menu of small plates at Monkey Hill Bar.

“It will be French street food, Korean barbecue, tacos, things like that,” says Hughes.

News of the planned Johnny V’s began circulating back in the fall of 2010, and at first the restaurant was slated to open late that same year. However, renovations to convert its address into a restaurant ran afoul of city permitting rules and work was halted, according to coverage from the online news site Uptown Messenger.

The restaurant opened in late January. Most entrees are in the $25-range, with appetizers between $9 and $14. The bar food menu will range between $5 and $7, Hughes says.

Johnny V’s sous chef is Jacob Cureton and its maitre d’ is Nash Laurent.

Johnny V’s
6106 Magazine St., 899-4880

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