Lesly Bernard’s looong-awaited Permanent Brunch is set to open Monday. The menu is on the restaurant’s website, www.permanentbrunch.com, and it’s everything we could hope for from the Redhead’s Meg Grace — shrimp and grits, steak and eggs, chicken and waffles, and perhaps the sweet-savory pièce de résistance, French toast stuffed with ham and cheese. Bernard tells us all the seating in the narrow space, which accommodates 40, will be at bar height, and the bar itself will serve five varieties of Bloody Marys. Bernard did a lot of the construction on his own (putting photos of the subway on tiles he made by hand), which partly accounts for the delay. Speaking about that, he tells us he may have been too hasty in taking the former Secrets of Thai Cooking space: “Little did I know that it was only a shell of a restaurant. I was calling it Permanent Construction for a while.”
So how are his other projects going? First off, La Otra is on the back burner. Village Tart will open in the next four weeks, he says, but without Patti Jackson involved. He’s now working with Jonathan Lindenauer, a consulting chef who helped with Taj and Tillman’s and who will also be involved in the new incarnation of the Mr. Jones space. That’s right, Bernard reveals to us that he’s giving the space a “very accessible, easy, relaxed vibe,” and by the end of August it will open as Latina Cantina Cantina Latina, serving Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Brazilian dishes. Para beber, there’ll be pitchers of mojitos, sangrias, and margaritas (maybe even frozen ones). So why didn’t Mr. Jones work? “There are only a few yakitori places in town, and maybe there’s a reason for that,” Bernard reflects. “In September, when I opened and things kind of fell apart, maybe it wasn’t a time to educate people about something like this, when they were gravitating toward things that were comforting.” Here’s hoping Bernard fairs better when Latina Cantina opens in late August. And we promise not to hold him to that date.