The other day, I saw a "for rent" sign on the building that was for a year, anyway the lovably eccentric Grace, a Bistro on the Edge (7044 Troost). It was on the edge, all right, and obviously tipped right over. The food was hit-or-miss, but it was the service that kept me from returning more frequently. Jess, the waiter, was loaded with personality but lacked that certain élan that this intimate bistro required. Luckily, Jess had bigger career aspirations; perhaps he's now following his dream to become a movie star ... in Florida.
Restaurateur Mimi Perkins followed her dream and opened a Vietnamese restaurant and karaoke club called My Dream Café (1808 West 39th Street) right next to Saigon 39, the Vietnamese bistro she opened and then handed off to her children. Alas, most customers were too confused by the bounty of pan-Asian fare and preferred the comfy familiarity of Saigon 39. My Dream Café is now Friends Sushi & Bento Place.
Other restaurants that came and went rather quickly in 2005 were Gamal's Eurobistro (520 Southwest Boulevard) and The Lodge Bar & Grille, a short-lived steakhouse that all too briefly took up residence in the location formerly occupied by Canyon Café (4626 Broadway). Those two restaurants had a couple of excellent servers who actually looked like movie stars. But that location, just around the corner from Pottery Barn, never caught on with the Plaza crowd. Neither did Frankie's on the Plaza (100 Ward Parkway), which had a good two-year run before restaurateur Vic Fontana realized that his swanky supper-club concept wasn't the right one for that particular building, the site of the former Annie's Santa Fe. It's now a nightclub called Blonde.
Over in the Northland, the cavernous Red Star Tavern (8660 Northwest Boardwalk) closed down, and across the highway, the Flat Wok Mongolian Grill lasted about 10 minutes in the Zona Rosa Shopping Center before going flat, literally. That space got a glam makeover and reopened a few weeks ago as the newest Bo Ling's outpost.
The biggest change of last year? The 70-year-old Romanelli Grill was transformed into a stylish Irish pub, The Gaf, proving that a good face-lift is always the best way to start a new century.