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Monday, December 7, 2009

Kevin Gillespie fires up Woodfire Grill

click to enlarge SWEETBREADS: A beautifully cooked dish at Woodfire Grill
  • SWEETBREADS: A beautifully cooked dish at Woodfire Grill

On a random Tuesday evening, Woodfire Grill's foyer is packed with people. The hostess is trying to deal with the waves of customers entering the space between the bar and the door to the dining room. With a tight but professional smile, she explains, "We are totally booked until 9:30. I already have three couples waiting for a spot at the bar."

It's a vastly different scene from this time last year, when I originally reviewed the restaurant under its new ownership. Back then, like many high-end restaurants in town, Woodfire had an almost somber feel to its dining room, which was sparsely seated. The newfound bustle is the result of many things, most obviously the power of television. Chef/owner Kevin Gillespie's star run on Bravo's "Top Chef" has elevated him to celebrity status, and there's no doubt many of the diners crowding the restaurant are here to breathe in that whiff of fame. But the show's success doesn't exist in a vacuum; Gillespie's done so well this season because he's incredibly talented. Which is the other reason so many diners are now packing the tables – in one short year, this young chef has come into his own.

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(Photo by James Camp)

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