Fairchild, the new restaurant on Monroe Street where Jacs Dining and Tap House used to be, opened Monday after soft openings over the weekend.
Itaru Nagano, L'Etoile's former chef de cuisine, said he and partners Andrew Kroeger and Patrick Sierra designed Fairchild, 2611 Monroe St., as a neighborhood restaurant.
The first few days have gone "better than expected for the most part," Nagano said. "There's some hiccups there, but nothing that we didn't expect."
In December, Nagano said he hoped to open by March 1, and the partners, all L'Etoile alums, hit that goal.
For now, the restaurant is only open for dinner, but Nagano said it should also open for lunch by mid to late March.
The approachable menu has snacks: popcorn cooked in coconut oil and sprinkled with yeast; fried olives; deviled eggs; and croquettes.
Appetizers include mixed greens; beets with tahini, pistachios and Greek yogurt; salmon with salsify, rice cracker and orange; and chicken with leeks, celery root and oyster mushrooms.
Nagano said he's gotten great feedback on the restaurant's four pasta dishes. Entrées include cod, red snapper, cassoulet and ribeye.
Kroeger said the organic beef, from Seven Seeds Farm in Spring Green, has also been going over well. "We felt it was the best grass fed, grass finished, no grain. We just got half a beef in yesterday. So we have like 400 pounds of beef in the walk-in right now. We'll be running specials for a couple of weeks with that."
The men made minor changes to the space, which mostly involved cleaning, pulling up tiles, and fixing existing equipment. Kroeger made all the tables and the bar-back shelving.
Nagano said the aesthetic has a lot to do with the hanging plants in planters from Cambridge Wood-fired Pottery, which also made a lot of the plates the restaurant is using.
The name Fairchild comes from the last name of the first mayor of Madison, which Nagano said seemed appropriate for the partners since it's their first restaurant.
The idea is to be a "casual, chef-driven restaurant, with classic flavors and a focus on execution and utilizing local produce, of course," he said.
"We've been working really closely with all the farmers and we've selected who we think are the best producers around," said Nagano, who left L'Etoile in September after 6 1/2 years.
"What we've been saying is that we want to be kind of like the middlemen (between) the farmers and the guests, creating dishes that are not really complicated but true to how the farmers meant people to be eating."
Read more restaurant news at go.madison.com/restaurantnews.
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