Away They Go!

Two top chefs light new fires.

Chefs and restaurants are always parting company, for reasons as varied and complicated as the personalities involved. Among the biggies, though, are the allure of greener pastures and culinary visions that are incompatible with management's business plan.

That last one seems to have done in the relationship between Executive Chef Adam Schmith and his employers at the Waterhouse (728 Prospect Avenue). In fact, the ink was still wet on our October 12 review of the downtown restaurant when Schmith alerted us to his departure.

"I wish them well, but I just couldn't go in there every day, knowing what they had in mind for the place," he says. What the Waterhouse's Georgia owner had in mind was transforming the restaurant from an upscale dining room into a burgers-and-wings joint to compete with the nearby Winking Lizard. "It's one thing for a fry cook to become a chef. It's another thing to expect a chef to become a fry cook."

Waterhouse GM Kim Viccarone says there's been no overhaul to their concept. "We've added some bar-menu type items and made some seasonal changes, but the menu is pretty much the same as it has always been."

Schmith hopes to open a local spot of his own within the next year or so. Whether or not his vacated Waterhouse position will be filled by an executive chef is still an open question. For now, though, a team of cooks is running the kitchen, and menu development is in the hands of Viccarone, her vendors, and the restaurant's corporate honchos.

Hmm . . . cuisine by committee. That always works out well, doesn't it?

Flying south . . . After three years, Executive Chef John Kolar flew away from Three Birds last week and into the arms of Akron restaurateur Ken Stewart. Kolar hopes a stint with Mr. "Big Volume" Stewart -- owner of the expansive Grille in Akron and Lodge in Bath -- will give him the culinary equivalent of an MBA. "Sure, I'd like to own my own place someday," Kolar allows. "It's the American way."

Meantime, look for Three Birds owner James Bell to become the creative force in his Lakewood kitchen, with a menu that will probably lean more toward Mediterranean flavors and less toward Kolar's nouveau-Thai stylings.