There's a sudden new look at what was the Local Tavern, 102 King St. Of late, new menu items had popped up; then the awnings came down. And come Monday, a new name and a fresh paint job.
The restaurant is now officially known as King & Mane, a play on the site's location at the nexus of King and Main Streets. Its genre, a neologism: A gastro-cantina.
Well, there is one other one, in San Diego, but it hasn't opened yet, note co-owners Patrick O'Halloran and Michael Banas, who thought up the term to describe their new Mexican-Spanish venture (along with third co-owner Sue Kirtan and chef Bob Kulow).
It's "an American take on Mexican and Spanish," says Banas. And not Italian at all - "we're leaving that at Lombardino's," O'Halloran's flagship restaurant.
O'Halloran was also an original partner in the Square's very successful the Old Fashioned. He's out of it now, after a divorce from former partner Marcia O'Halloran, and he was looking for a new venture when the Local's spot became available. (O'Halloran and Banas along with Kirtan bought out Kirtan's former partners in the Local.) It's also clear they've found inspiration from the Old Fashioned.
O'Halloran took cooking classes in Oaxaca to learn more about moles, on the menu prominently as the Monday special. "We're not trying to compete with La Mestiza," says O'Halloran of the Mexican restaurant a scant half-block from King & Mane, whose authentic cooking he praises. He'd like to take King & Mane "in a more convivial bar direction," but he and Banas are also interested in just letting the place evolve. Both hope to get to the point where they can change the windows so they open out, door-like, to the King Street side for a free-flowing patio feel.
The menu includes some elegance and some "total gluttony," say Banas and O'Halloran. Many items are based on food they've encountered on travels, often street food. The solid sandwich menu features tortas, an idea that came from Kulow. There's also a pan-seared walleye sandwich and the ubiquitous slider.
Entrees include sea scallops, pork loin, steak, walleye, chicken and mushroom crepes. The staff is looking to increase the presence of Spanish meats and cheeses (and sherries and wines) in the restaurant.
The desserts are also mostly Mexican-inspired. Canela whoopie pie, anyone?