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Back in Black

Side Dishes: Montpelier restaurateur closes one restaurant, opens another


It’s been a long, strange trip for River Run — and for its owner, Ignacio Ruiz. Last July, locals were startled when he transformed the longtime Plainfield brunch spot into a tapas restaurant named Tasca. The concept proved less than successful and, on March 1 of this year, Ruiz reopened River Run, serving its trademark catfish and breakfast.

But apparently it was too late for an old favorite to rise from the ashes. On April 3, Ruiz closed River Run for good. “It’s a sad thing,” says manager Rhonna Gable. “[Ruiz] bought this business when it was in trouble, and it became a financial albatross to him.”

Ruiz now has bigger fish to fry. On May 1, he’ll open a new restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Montpelier’s Black Door Bar and Bistro. He’ll keep a similar atmosphere and retain part of the name — though he’s not sure yet, Ruiz says, he likes the sound of Tapeo at the Black Door.

“Tapear” is the Spanish verb meaning “to get tapas,” and the bar portion of the restaurant will specialize in Spanish small bites like the ones Ruiz prepared at Tasca. He says to expect a wide-ranging cocktail menu and a booming music scene similar to that at the old Black Door.

Chef Ruiz is particularly jazzed about his bistro dinner menu. Fare will feature Spanish dishes such as breaded halibut with thinly sliced potato chips in saffron sauce and seared salmon with caper relish. Ruiz plans to offer other Mediterranean cuisine, too, including weekly pasta and risotto specials, and Greek dishes, such as dolmas and one of his favorites, braised lamb shank with rosemary and port.

All this will be made with local ingredients, says the chef — produce from the Capital City Farmers Market and beef exclusively from Greenfield Highland Beef in Plainfield.

Along with his favorite beef, the entire (closing) River Run staff will follow Ruiz to Montpelier.

“I want people to feel like they’re coming back to the same place, even though it’s different,” says Ruiz.