Happily Blue

More cool food comes to the hinterlands.

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For years, when residents of Hudson, Twinsburg, Macedonia, or the other southern suburbs wanted a dining experience to brag about, they had to head into Cleveland. (Hey, we love the Inn at Turner's Mill, but just how often can you eat there?) But finally, the scene is heating up. We heard about Downtown 140, executive chef Shawn Monday's wine-and-tapas bar scheduled to open in Hudson in January. Now, more exciting news: executive chef Brandt Evans, the force behind the former Kosta's in Tremont, is coming to Twinsburg.

The Hudson native, Culinary Institute of America grad, and undisputed master of the sexy dish is partnering up with Twinsburg developer Bob Voelker (CEO of Gateway Hospitality Group, which owns and manages four Hilton Garden Inns, including one in Twinsburg, at I-480 and State Route 82) to bring cool food to the hinterlands. The duo broke ground in late October for their new Blue Canyon Kitchen * Tavern (8960 Wilcox Drive, next to the Twinsburg Hilton). They're planning for a June opening.

From the outside, the 200-seat restaurant will resemble a rustic, log-built lodge. Inside, guests can choose from six distinct dining areas, including the casual Kitchen, with seats overlooking the cooking line; the Great Room, with a fireplace and a waterfall view; the Tavern, serving raw-bar and fondue specialties; and the outdoor Terrace, for alfresco fun.

Evans's contemporary American menu stars predictably sassy-sounding dishes, such as Smoked Chicken Ravioli in pecan-and-sage brown butter, Wood Grilled Salmon with a spicy, caramelized-onion marmalade, and Chocolate Molten Cake with vanilla malt. Even better (and despite the big bucks that are obviously going into this project), prices will remain moderate, with the typical lunch entrée checking in at $8 and the average dinner entrée pegged at around $16.

"This isn't going to be a high-end, special-occasion restaurant," Voelker swears. "We want it to be a neighborhood place."

Obviously, the neighborhood is looking up.

More Blue news . . . Prospects seemed grim for planned restaurant and blues venue Boulevard Blue (12718 Larchmere Boulevard), after heavy rains brought the roof down during remodeling in June. But the man with the plans, Andy Himmel, would not be deterred: Rebuilding, which began in August, is now nearly complete, and Himmel cautiously predicts a mid-January opening for the casually upscale spot.

In retrospect, Himmel says, starting from scratch wasn't such a bad thing: "We now have a full basement, higher ceilings, a full patio out front, more space throughout, and a much more creative and architecturally sound structure."

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