That's a long-winded way of saying no, the three-week-old Spit Fire Grill at 1809 West 39th Street (in the location formerly occupied by Addis Aba Ethiopian Café) is not a chain. In fact Cantrell, who also owns the Cheesehead Grilled Cheese Sandwiches joint downtown, originally considered calling his second restaurant something else entirely.
"We installed a 7-foot rotisserie in the dining room," Cantrell tells me. "We bricked it in so it's part of the dining-room architecture. So I thought of calling the restaurant The Embers. But it's a gas rotisserie, and there aren't any embers. So we went with the Spit Fire Grill instead."
He insists that the 45-seat restaurant is as much a wine bar as it is a dining venue, but chef Brian Curry has created an impressive, moderately priced menu that should entice the eating crowd. The most expensive item on the menu is a 16-ounce rotisserie-roasted prime rib at $21; the average dinner entrée costs about $16.
The Spit Fire Grill is an ambitious project. Cantrell and Curry are offering lunch and dinner, as well as brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The regular Sunday-night special, Cantrell says, will be a big ol' stack of king crab legs served over a pile of french fries. "We'll offer that from 5 p.m. until we close on Sundays," he says.
And Cantrell still plans to open a downtown location of the legendary Northland diner Hayes Hamburgers this summer at 1529 Grand.
In response to other mail: After a reader demanded that I drive to Independence to sample the fare at Ricardo's Tacos (1003 East 23rd Street), I had a tasty lunch at the family-owned taqueria. (It's in a tiny strip mall that also boasts the Dragon House Chinese Buffet.) Ricardo's is run by Kathy Fonseca, her niece Jessica Rodriguez and Jessica's husband, Mike. It's no-frills, to put it mildly, but the fried flour tortilla tacos are crunchy and delicious, and the chips are served mucho hot. It's not a chain, either.