Killer classics: Duner's, Rev Soup get new blood

When Ivy's Mr. and Mrs. Smith of the restaurant world, Cathy and Haden Berry, left Duner's to go freelance at Three-Notch'd Grill, their new operation in Crozet, the Dish wondered if Duner's would retain its killer instinct for classic cuisine.

After all, the Ivy assassins had been executing their signature dishes (hearty, yet lean; simple, yet exciting) for willing victims for so long that they were Duner's. Well, the Dish is happy to report that the Ivy hotspot has a new hit man in the kitchen– and he appears to be just as dangerous.

"My goal is to make it the place to eat," says the new chef, 24-year-old Mark Otis, who took over the stove knobs in June and declares, "If you come to Charlottesville, you eat at Duner's."

Otis has the brash confidence you'd expect from a 24-year old, but he also respects his elders. "Cathy and Haden were really good cooks," he says. "I'm refining what they did here, not changing it."

Otis, who got his start as a line cook at the Blue Moon Diner, is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute. He also did an externship in Italy before returning to work in the kitchen at Palladio, the trattoria-style Italian restaurant in Barboursville.

"We serve food you can't really get in Charlottesville," says Otis of Duner's, "classic stuff like sweetbreads, calves liver, or short ribs, maybe a piece of fish served with a perfect, simple butter sauce. Things that take an element of care, that chefs really need to learn to prepare well, but that have been a around for a hundred years. It's hard to get classic cooking like that in Charlottesville."

Of course, it's teamwork that makes a kitchen work. And even a lone assassin like Otis needs an accomplice. Enter Laura Walke, Duner's sous chef. The 21-year old has been cooking at various places in town since she was 14. In fact, she worked across the street from Otis at the Bluebird Café when he was working at the Blue Moon. "She's dynamite," says Duner's manager Christina Webster.

Naturally, Dish wondered if the Berrys were taking out victims in Crozet the way they did in Ivy. Unfortunately, Dish couldn't reach the couple before press time. Maybe the Three Notch'd is just too busy for them to answer the phone!

 

Soup d'etat

 Closer to home, Dish has learned that Revolutionary Soup on the Downtown Mall has traded ladles. The bloodless coup (or should it be brothless?) was orchestrated in late October by new owners Will Richey and Josh Zanoff and previous owner Alison Campbell.

Richey says he and Zanoff had wanted to buy a restaurant in town for a long time. Over the summer, they came close to closing on one, but that deal fell through at the last minute. Though they come from gourmet backgrounds (Richey is the former wine guy at E'toile, and Zanoff is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute), when the opportunity to buy Rev Soup came up, they jumped at it.

"It wasn't what we had been looking for," says Richey, "but we saw that the place had a lot of potential."

Richey and Zanoff plan to do a lot more retail, as the racks of gourmet chips that replaced the lower-level seating attest, but don't worry– they also want to keep offering tasty, affordable soup and sandwiches.


There's a changing of the guard at Duner's (above) and Three Notch'd.
PHOTO BY DAVE MCNAIR