604 at West Village, the upscale Italian restaurant downtown, recently made two major personnel moves aimed at moving up the ranks on Durham's competitive restaurant scene.
Restaurant owner Sean Shea brought in Scott Martin, formerly of Four Square, to be 604's executive chef a few months ago. And, last week, he lured Olivia Gray, the highly regarded manager of Revolution, to be his general manager.
"We want the restaurant to be able to be compete where we think it should, as one of the top four or five restaurants in town," Sean says. "This puts us with the right personnel who truly understand the potential of the restaurant and will help us get there."
Scott said he's relished the opportunity to create his own menu, drawing on what he learned at Four Square and with Ashley Christensen Restaurants.
"Sean gave me free rein to do what I want as long as I stay within the parameters of the restaurant," says Scott, who took over the 604 kitchen in March.
He says it's taken a little while, but he's more or less got the menu where he wants it. Like many, he's focusing on "seasonality and local ingredients," particularly when "the Farmers' Market is literally two blocks from the restaurant."
Scott's there twice a week seeing what's fresh, and he also brings in as much North Carolina fish as possible.
He describes his food as "a little bit complex, in a good way," offering as an example Sunburst trout served with fennel, arugula, pickled beets, lentils in a saffron-citrus butter sauce.
Scott is with Sean in believing 604 can make some serious strides. The location is beautiful, if a little tough to find, tucked away inside the West Village courtyard.
"I think we're going to get people in here with the food and service," Scott says. "It definitely has the potential to be one of the better restaurants in the Triangle."
Adds Sean, "I think now we're ready to take our spot. Of course, Magnolia Grill closing gave us a little opportunity, made a little space for the rest of us."