Chef Jimmy Brown and his team, owners of Ease Modern Comfort Cuisine, have converted the place from a stark, white restaurant into a warm, inviting space designed as an extension of one’s living room. Called Frick Park Tavern, the rebranded eatery opens on Tuesday.
“The transformation is like night and day,” says Brown, who grew up just a few blocks away from S. Braddock Avenue.
His mother, Louise Brown, served as City of Pittsburgh Department of Parks and Recreation Director for 25 years, so Frick Park holds special significance for the family. The 644-acre green space is the city’s largest historic regional park. Black-and-white photographs — hand delivered to the restaurant by the current director of Citiparks — hang on the tavern’s walls.
Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group (VSAG) a Washington D.C.-based restaurant and hospitality consulting firm, played up the nostalgia factor, giving the space a cozier ambiance. The walls and pressed tin ceiling are dark. Intimate lighting shines above wooden tables. Large windows in the front of the restaurant give the place a natural glow.
The menu is filled with snacks, small plates and culinary classics such as burgers, buttermilk fried chicken salad, double-cut pork chops, cast-iron seared salmon and prime sirloin steak.
Brown’s favorite? Jimmy’s Signature Meatloaf, made with veal, beef and pork slathered in a tangy tomato glaze and accompanied by whipped potatoes and veggies.
A small selection of desserts — priced at $8 each — are offered, including Pot de crème Frangelico chocolate custard, vanilla cake and fresh fruit.
Brown believes the cuisine is more in line with what locals loved about the building’s former tenant, Dunning’s Grill, which was in business for 30 years.
And like it was back then, the bar — a 22-foot slab of white marble — is the focal point of Frick Park Tavern. The signature cocktails put a twist on Prohibition-era drinks. The Kensington Hill combines Hendrick’s Gin, Campari and Carpano Antica.
The Pinkerton is a potent mix of Pelotón de la Muerte Mezcal, ginger beer and jalapeño with a salt and cayenne pepper rim. And the Fuzz Fungle, a concoction invented in Pittsburgh before booze was outlawed, contains Bulleit Rye Bourbon, brown sugar molasses and cherry liqueur.
Frick Park Tavern also boasts a list of unique wines available by the bottle and in seven-ounce pours.
Amber Hartman, managing partner and vp of restaurant operations with VSAG, says the wine is affordably priced, so customers don’t have to limit their enjoyment of the beverage to a “special occasion.”
On Monday, Brown welcomed family, friends and other Regent Square business owners to the new neighborhood joint to say thanks for supporting its transformation. He can’t wait for the rest of Pittsburgh to see it.
“Everyone is really excited about it from what I’ve heard,” he says. “It’ll be fun to see how they react.”