As Little Bird Bistro soldiers on, its former chef Erik Van Kley is ready to talk about the future project he's kept under wraps since he left the restaurant in April. As it turns out, he and life partner Gabriella Ramos (Nostrana, Toro Bravo, Yakuza Lounge and Le Pigeon) will be teaming up with former Little Bird general manager Daniel Neely to open Taylor Railworks. The restaurant will be a globally inspired "refined American" spot with a simple four-section menu of five raw plates, five small plates, five large plates and five sweet plates. The build-out is currently underway in the old Plow Works Building, mere feet from the railroad tracks that line the inner-southeast Buckman neighborhood, hence the name.
The redesign will leverage the building's existing industrial charms — wooden beams, brick walls, a roll-up loading dock garage door and plenty of steel — into a 49-seat dining room with an open kitchen, a chef's counter, a ten-seat granite-topped craft cocktail bar, one wall-length cozy banquette, and one stunning Victorian-era gilt mirror hanging on the wall. They're also showing the kind of foresight and compassion for their future staff that true restaurant vets can: namely, they're favoring cork floors over concrete.
Although many details of the menu are still coming together, there's early talk of dishes like curry fried chicken and a wedge salad plate with avocados, chiles and buttermilk vinaigrette. Van Kley is also planning a steak and eggs dish with green harissa that will be served at dinner, and on Saturday and Sunday mornings when brunch service rolls out a few weeks after opening. If all goes as planned, Van Kley and Ramos say they could be serving their first guests by late-August. Now have a look at Van Kley in his new blank slate below. There's plenty more of this on his Instagram account, too.
Taylor Railworks: 117 SE Taylor St.; Tentative Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday, with future Saturday and Sunday brunches lasting from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.