Human beings spent thousands of years as hunters and gatherers, grazing on whatever they came upon. Hard work? Yes. Fresh? Indubitably. The soon-to-be-open Graze Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant might not take us all the way back to our roots, but they are touting local, seasonal eats under the headline of "Creative, Casual Cuisine."
Graze Restaurant, which will fill the space Coco's Café left behind at 863 Houston Northcutt, is built upon the farm-to-table concept with an eclectic twist. The owners don't plan to identify the restaurant with any specific genre, and the main guiding force in the kitchen seems to be that first "C," creative. Planned dishes include cornmeal-dusted oysters, duck liver mousse, and Korean barbecue.
"We'll have a very eclectic menu. We don't want to be confined to just French, Italian, or Asian," says Bradford Bobbitt, general manager and co-owner.
Bobbitt and co-owners Michael Karkut and Derek Lathan, who will also serve as co-executive chefs, worked together at Sette Restaurant. The trio is targeting August for an opening date.
Graze will also serve as a creative outlet for artists appealing to visual rather than gustatory sensations. Graze intends to showcase art from local artists on the restaurant's walls on a seasonal basis, creating a correspondence between the featured pieces and the fresh ingredients emerging from the kitchen. The art will be available for sale, but Graze will not take any cut of the profit.
They haven't made a final decision on whether to feature one artist at a time or several, but Bobbitt says he'd also like to have an art menu, which diners could peruse in order to find pricing and artist details about each piece.
The tight quarters of Coco's have been transformed into a more spacious layout with a large quartz bar. They've partially knocked down the divider wall between the bar and the dining area, and they intend to provide enough seating, inside and out, to accommodate around 75 guests.
The pricing will attempt to live up to the casual moniker, with most menu items falling in the $6-$10 range at lunch and $12-$20 range during dinner.
"We want great atmosphere, great food, but cheap prices," says Bobbitt.
A key ingredient for Graze is adaptability. The owners want patrons to view the restaurant as a place they could eat at several times a week, for lunch or dinner, without feeling as though they're getting the same kind of meal.
Bobbitt says the restaurant will shift with the seasons. In spring, patrons can expect festive art and a similarly inspired menu, while wintertime will bring a heartier menu and more restrained, shaded artistic pieces.
"You walk in and it's almost like a whole different restaurant," says Bobbitt.