FIRST LOOK: ilume’s new Cedar Grove restaurant

Posted on 11 Jun 2016 at 10:05am

IMG_3137Dish has been gone since the winter, and now,  just as summer is about to officially begin, the space at the ilume is about to reopen. Cedar Grove is the reimagined version by Dish owner Tim McEneny. Design-wise, McEneny has gone for an urban forest of custom-made abstract tree branches. They frame the largely communal seating of the space, but also divide it to make an intimate dinner for two work as well as big gathering of friends. “It’s very European,” McEneny told me during a personal tour. The seating has also increased by about 50, allowing 212 diners and an additional 20 at the bar.

It’s not just the atmospherics that got an overhaul. The menu was created by executive chef Taylor Kearney to appeal broadly to the community.

“Frankly, Dish was too powerful for the neighborhood,” McEneny explains. “It was good for special occasions or once a week, but we want people to stop by on their way out for the night, grab a drink and quick bite and still have money for the rest of the evening.” For instance, every day will offer a 2/4/6 drink menu — some draft beers on tap for $2, a selection of well drinks for $4 and some premiums for $6.

Only a few food items are over $20, McEneny said. “There are 22 items called ‘snacks,’ which is a sharing section. Then there’s the ‘bread and bun’ — that’s burgers and sandwiches, but also pizzas. Then what we call large dishes. And it’s mostly food we grew up with.”

The popular drag brunch will be back eventually… probably. “I’d say yes, but not right away,” McEneny said. “We’re still working out things, and it will be very hot in July and August, but I expected we will bring it back right after Pride” in September, he said.

Nevertheless, fans will still recognize a lot of things. The bar hasn’t actually moved, although they extended the front door all the way to the property line so it feels more centered. And the bathrooms are — as they have always been — unisex: One door, different stalls.

“We’ve done this for six years,” McEnery said. “My daughter goes to the University of North Carolina. I’ve said, ‘Let me show the governor there how it’s done.'”

Service will begin at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and be open seven says a week (dinner starts at 4 p.m.). Cedar Grove will also be open for brunch Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Check of some first look photos below, and look for more here next week.

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