Though in place since the beginning of October, Amanda Barnes has only now been officially announced as the executive chef at City Tavern.
The restaurant, which lost its Michelin bib gourmand status this year after entering the list the previous year, has gone through its share of chefs in the past year or so (Kendal Duque, Robert Hoffman, Jackie Shen), so it's not surprising that they wanted to make sure everything was in place before going public with the change.
Barnes, who has logged time at The Purple Pig, moto, The Publican, Larry Forgione's An American Place and Gerard Craft's Niche, acknowledges the hurdle she and her crew have to climb.
"I'm enjoying the challenge of winning the public back and letting them know that they can trust the kitchen and the food again," she says.
The Houston, TX native has moved away from the "simpler food" of her predecessors and "upgraded to a more American rustic (menu) with European influences. I've tried to go out of my way to give people a good bang for their buck."
Her efforts to "invest a little piece" of herself includes an in-house charcuterie program featuring pigs from Maple Creek Farm that she's hoping to unveil by the new year.
Though City Tavern is the first restaurant she's headed up, both the support of and rapport between her team (two sous chefs and a junior sous chef) are key factors to turning things around she feels.
"There's a bunch of us that have worked together in the past. It's a really happy kitchen which is important to me these days. Happy people make happy food, right?"
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· City Tavern [Official Site]