Water Street replaces Tempo

Ashley Sieg Williams (above) and Brice Cunningham are bringing a new restaurant concept to the former Tempo space. Rammelkamp Foto Ashley Sieg Williams (above) and Brice Cunningham are bringing a new restaurant concept to the former Tempo space. Rammelkamp Foto

There’s a new restaurant in the old Tempo space on the corner of Water Street and Fifth Street SE. It’s fittingly called Water Street, and, according to Ashley Sieg Williams, a trained chef who runs the front of the house, it’s not a rebranding of Tempo—it’s an entirely new restaurant.

Williams says she and chef Brice Cunningham—who will lead the Water Street kitchen—decided to leave Tempo behind because “it was time to change into something else.”

Water Street, which opens this weekend, will offer small and large plates, plus beer, wine and cocktails, all served in an upscale casual setting.

Gone are the cow-print couches and the water buffalo head watching over the bar; in their place are soft blue-gray benches, white orchids, Moroccan pendant lamps and mirrors galore.

The food menu will change often, says Williams, likely every two weeks. It’s “elegant, inventive but approachable food,” she says. It has elements of both French and American cuisine and aims to “show some new, fun flavors that [people] haven’t seen in Charlottesville,” Williams says, such as the charred Spanish octopus with fava bean salad. Other small plates ($5-12) include Israeli couscous with Italian tuna salad, roasted baby carrots with thyme and chardonnay, and pork rillettes with an Albemarle Baking Company baguette and cornichons.

Large plates, such as lamb shank with sautéed spinach, salmon filet or flank steak with mint and chili, are also on the menu for about $20 each.

And Williams is particularly excited about the wine program, which offers featured wines for $8 per glass and $30 per bottle. The idea is to encourage people to choose a wine based on their own tastes and interests, not by price point. The restaurant does have an extensive wine list separate from the menu, though it comes with a heftier price tag.

The Cheers of Charlottesville

After 10 years of pouring pints, Tuesday trivia nights, flip cup leagues and St. Paddy’s Day parties, McGrady’s Irish Pub will close after its grand finale party on Saturday, September 25.

“It will be McGrady’s no more,” says manager Tracy Tuttle, who started working at the bar as a bouncer on St. Patrick’s Day 2006.

Tuttle says the pub’s original owners have returned and plan on completely remodeling the space. Although the restaurant’s concept has been chosen, he can’t reveal it yet.

One thing Tuttle will miss: the always unpredictable St. Patrick’s Day parties. “You never knew what was going to happen. That was fun,” he says.

Wait staff and bartenders from the last 10 years will return to serve that final night, and from 1-5pm the bar will hold a silent auction for its wall hangings; half of the proceeds will be donated to Red Shoe Cville.

Beer fest date changes

Originally scheduled for Saturday, September 24, the Top of the Hops Beer Festival will now take place on Saturday, November 5, still at the Sprint Pavilion on the Downtown Mall. All tickets purchased for the September 24 event will be honored for the November date.

Contact Erin O’Hare at eatdrink@c-ville.com.