Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
Curses...Eden Tries to Silence Hillcrestian Specters
Something new is sprouting up at Eden in Hillcrest. Actually, from the sounds of it, very soon EVERYTHING will be new. If you, like me, are thinking, Wait a sec...didn't that place like JUST open? you're right. It opened last November when Chile Co. Catering chef-for-hire Scotty Wagner decided to test his mettle at a set spot. Half a year later, the whole place is getting a revamp from aesthetic to the menu to the wait staff's attire. Why all the recapitulation?
If you ask me, it's a curse; an Addams Family-style black cloud hanging exclusively over 1202 University Avenue. First, that thunderhead took out Dish at Universal, the satellite venture headed by talented head chef Antonio Friscia of downtown's Stingaree, and now it's sent Wagner in search of sunnier skies. Rumor has it that creative differences between the chef and Eden's backers are the cause of the break-up and certainly that's less scary than witchcraft or some strange almighty clan of anorexic resto-hating ghosts purging all comers from this would-be nightlife hotspot.
New chef Ron Prestage, Wagner's former underling at Chile Co., has stepped into the role of gastro Ghostbuster. He made his unofficial debut tonight at a VIP coming-out party featuring samples of dishes spanning numerous cultural styles from around the world. Despite global ecclecticism, Prestage's menu is still more straightforward than the wild, metro-sensual fare Wagner packed onto his long and confusing bill of fare during his time at Eden.
Cutesy names are still the standard, but the dishes are much simpler — pastas, sandwiches, fish, chicken, beef, and starters that are right on par with the rest of SD, and by that, I mean boring and passé — mac 'n' cheese, calamari, nachos, mussels, fries, wings...stop me if this sounds way too familiar. And, of course, there're sliders (anybody know how sliders got their name...once you do, their mere mention's enough to kill any appetite).
It does appear, however, that a realistic attempt to add some pizazz to these boring everyday offerings has been made. Willing Guinea pigs can line up to find out how successful that bid was at Eden's grand opening, tomorrow (Tuesday, June 21) at 7 p.m., when the bandages are unraveled to reveal the results of the restaurant's facelift.