Chef Moussa Salloukh warned the investors in Plat8 that there would be no practice runs, the restaurant had to be top notch right out of the gate. Those investors, including Paul and Mindy Vesoulis, David and Liz Feniger, Vince and Marta Toma, Marianne Ballas and the rest of the Ottawa Hills Investments group, were smart to A. recruit and B. listen to the sage chef who has created something special in the restaurant space that was once the Town and Country Lounge (amidst a long list of other watering holes). Salloukh, known as one of Toledo’s top culinary innovators, had embraced the challenge of taking an extremely complex space (including a kitchen so compact it makes your average garden shed seem palatial) and transforming it into one of Toledo’s most accessible and cool hangouts. The long-time NW Ohio collective running Plat8 clearly care about providing farm-fresh fare at affordable prices, and have, in the restaurant, produced an excellent addition to the local food scene.
Candles line the exterior of the restaurant, luring guests and their cocktails from the extensive bar to mingle. It’s easy to see why this hallway has become an enclosed patio of sorts for the restaurant— even on a Monday night, Plat8 is packed to capacity and more are looking to get in. The restaurant has actually had to stop taking reservations and operate on a first-come basis to maximize access for hungry would-be patrons. “It’s a good problem to have,” Paul says. Though it’s also a tough problem, he admits, because they don’t want to keep people waiting. It’s all about finding that balance. David Feniger manages the daily operations of Plat8 as well as managing the group’s overall investment. Part of that, was making sure the chef had freedom to operate. “Our goal was to provide Moussa with an environment that he could bring out his creative side,” David says. The group has put in long hours making sure the restaurant lives up to the hype that has surrounded it.
The name game
A common mistake is thinking Plat8 might somehow translate to “Plate.” It doesn’t. The restaurant’s peculiar name comes instead from geographical lingo, “plat” meaning a plot of land. “Ottawa Hills was developed in plats,” Paul and Mindy explain, blending their words seamlessly to overlap and, adorably, fit together. “Plat 1, Plat 2, Plat 3… Plat 8 was the plat that was never developed for Ottawa Hills. It’s the next plat.” As for getting into the restaurant business? “It’s always been in the back of our minds. We’ve said, ‘We should do this one day, we should get involved with a restaurant,’” Mindy explained. The Plat8 concept was already in the works, courtesy of David’s father, William Feniger, who had the initial inspiration. “When the idea was presented to us, it wasn’t really a question,” said Mindy. “We jumped at it,” said Paul, grinning.
“The short ribs and the scallops are the two most talked about entrées,” Mindy says of the menu options. “And our daughters are health conscious, so they’re all about the bowls,” Paul adds, mentioning their trio of lighter meals that put emphasis on combining fresh veggies and healthy grains with sweet potatoes, goat cheese or portobello and pesto. I am not health conscious, so of course I opt for the short rib plate. The hype is justified; these ribs become succulent bites with the slightest prompting from my fork. There isn’t enough room to mention all the excellent menu items we sampled, but the roasted olives and fried green tomatoes deserve special appetizer shoutouts. And if you’re somehow still hungry after the meal, your sweet tooth should make a date with the bread pudding.
Paul spearheads the wine and beverage initiative for the restaurant, which includes their own selection of Plat8-branded bottles of red wine and a healthy selection of bourbons. The Bloody Mary is next level good, perfectly spiced and has a delicious charcuterie assortment as a topper. Of course, if you’re celebrating a very special occasion, you can always indulge in Louis XIII cognac, which will set you back $150 a pour.
What’s in store
If you’re more of an afternoon drinker or eater, fear not. The restaurant has May 3 penciled in as the date when they integrate lunch hours into the mix. It doesn’t matter the occasion. This restaurant has a great lively energy, plenty of friendly faces, and it won’t break your bank (unless you want it to). If anyone’s going and needs a date for the evening, count me in.
Plat8 Lamb Shanks
Directions: • Sear lamb shanks with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. • Braise in oven with can of plum tomatoes, thyme and rosemary. • Cook for 3 and a half hours at 350. Serve lamb shank with rosemary roasted redskin potatoes.
4-10pm, Monday-Wednesday; 4-11pm, Thursday-Saturday. Lunch will be served starting at 11am, when it becomes available. 4330 Central Ave. | 419-214-0370 | facebook.com/Plat8