Kevin McCarthy, former head of Armadillo Cafe and the new chef at M Bar, chatted with Clean Plate Charlie about what he's planning for the Las Olas restaurant.
Clean Plate Charlie: What have you been up to since you decided to close Armadillo Cafe in 2009?
McCarthy: I've been working on a bunch of consulting projects, most recently, one in Orlando. I was helping one of my former employees open two different restaurants last month.
CPC: What led to your decision to take this job?
McCarthy: Timing, really. My consulting work was wrapping up. I've known Jack for years. I've always liked Las Olas. A lot of my friends live here. Since I closed Armadillo Cafe, I have missed the families who used to come in and the friends we had made. This won't be Armadillo Cafe, but I may retool a couple of dishes that were favorites over there for the menu here. My cowboy steak might become a hanger steak, for example. I'm also looking forward to coming up with new dishes too.
CPC: How will you shape the menu in the coming weeks?
McCarthy: I've spent the last week getting organized. I've inherited the job from a pair of chefs who had created a tapas concept with a focus on molecular gastronomy, which was very interesting and they were quite talented. But Fort Lauderdale is not Chicago. And Las Olas really caters to a mix of people, from tourists to locals. We're maintaining a tiered menu of small plates, appetizers and main dishes, from market to table. I'd like to create an accessible menu with good food that has a modern twist.
We're opening for brunch this weekend, so I'm also finalizing the menu for that with Jack (Mancini), too. I'd like to cut back on some of the fried foods and to introduce cleaner flavors, more healthy choices.