The who: The Vagabond Kitchen and Bar’s original chef, Alex Chang, is out and the restaurant has been revamped by French partners Julien Geliot and Fabien Chalard (Plethore & Balthazar) who have brought in chef Roberto Dubois (Juvia, Makoto).
The space: The handsome mid-century dining room still exhibits its retro charm but has been softened a bit with checked upholstered chairs, pops of color and and more artwork.
The dishes: Locally sourced goods with regional influences. A rotisserie oven has been added, where whole chickens are browned and the menu has been simplified from its earlier incarnation. Prices are reasonable with starters averaging $12 and mains in the $20’s.
Start off with the fresh tuna poke on housemade sesame crisps and a bowl of stracciatella cheese dressed with leek oil and accompanied by toasted ZTB bread. The cucumber gazpacho is made with tomato sorbet, olive oil, almond powder and mint while the Cauliflower Steak arrives with whipped feta cheese puree topped with crispy garlic chips. Creamy polenta is made richer with a slow poached egg that adds a silky contrast to crispy Parmesan mushrooms, and the duck confit is a nod to the partner’s French origins.
Roast beef carpaccio
Larger plates include the steak frites with chimichurri, truffle fries, a whole-roasted fish and a whole-roasted chicken.
Desserts include coconut cheesecake with fresh berries, seasonal sorbet, and toasted coconut flakes, a key lime tart and bread pudding.
Bottom line: The Vagabond’s kitchen has reinvented itself with a simpler and more accessible approach to regional cooking.