August 25, 2015
After many months of fine-tuning the details, chef Marcie Turney and her partner Valerie Safran are just days away from opening Bud & Marilyn’s, the latest and largest addition to their Midtown Village mini-empire. Dinner service will start on Wednesday, Aug. 26.
Marked with a retro neon sign at the rainbow crosswalks at 13th and Locust streets, the restaurant pays homage to Turney’s grandparents, Bud and Marilyn Briese, who owned a supper club called The Spot in Ripon, Wisconsin, from 1950 to 1990.
“My grandfather was the cook and my grandmother ran the front of the house,” said Turney.
GALLERY: A first look at Bud & Marilyn's
Turney and her parents and brother (Varga Bar chef-owner Evan Turney) eventually settled in the Poconos, but they often road-tripped back to Wisconsin to visit Grandpa Bud and Grandma Marilyn at The Spot.
“The bar [pictured here on Turney’s Instagram] was awesome,” said Turney. “We got our bar stools from the same company that my grandfather got his.”
Other midcentury design features in the 65-seat dining room include vintage lighting fixtures and knickknacks and brass and walnut-veneer finishes. Funky geometric wallpaper covers the bathroom walls. Turney and Safran worked with designer Kate Rohrer of Rohe Creaetive to perfect what Rohrer calls an “old-school rec room” vibe.
“This is a big deal for us, just to get it right,” said Turney. “Now it’s our favorite place.”
As for the food, “It’s as if I were running The Spot today,” said Turney.
Think beer-battered Wisconsin cheese curds with pickled morita chile salsa and charred green onion ranch, or short rib stroganoff with hand-cut egg noodles, trumpet mushrooms and horseradish crème fraîche. “Bud’s Burger,” a Wisconsin-style butter burger, is topped with aged cheddar, “fancy sauce” and bacon.
One significant update: “We do have a whole vegetable and salad section. At my grandfather’s restaurant, it used to be just the parsley sprig and the sprig of kale,” said Turney.
There’s also a weekly Friday Night Fish Fry and a “Sunday Meat-and-Three” dinner — family-style biscuits, salads and sides and a choice of individual entrees.
While each of Safran and Turney’s other restaurants has a specific focus (Mediterranean at Barbuzzo, Spanish at Jamonera, Italian-American at Little Nonna’s and Mexican at Lolita), at Bud & Marilyn’s, Turney aims to incorporate “all of the eclectic flavors of America today” as well as regional American dishes like fried chicken.
“It’s kind of like there’s no box, which, for me, is very exciting.”
It’s clear that Turney’s having fun updating her favorite throwback dishes.
“I even have a version of chop suey on the menu because my dad would make that once a week from the La Choy kit,” she said.
Another item from her parents’ repertoire: the Polynesian pupu platter.
“It’s going to be the best pupu platter you ever had. I keep saying I’m going to have everyone in this city saying ‘pupu platter’ in a month from now,” laughed Turney.
The Bud & Marilyn’s sampler features tamarind-soy spare ribs, tuna poke, shrimp toast and angels on horseback (bacon-wrapped oysters).
For dessert, expect old-school classics like coconut cream pie, peach and cherry slab pie, carrot cake and a “Fat Elvis” sundae with hot fudge, bananas and peanut brittle.
Beverage manager Terence Lewis put together an all-American wine list, with all of the bottles priced under $70, and a selection of a dozen craft beers.
Cocktails by Franklin Bar alum Colin Shearn include a Manhattan, Marilyn’s Old Fashioned (made with brandy instead of whiskey), a whiskey sour, a sloe gin fizz and planter’s punch. Happy-hour specials at the bar (there are also two open kitchen counters) will run from 5 to 7 p.m.
Bud & Marilyn’s will open for dinner initially, with lunch and brunch hours to be announced.
“I’m super excited about brunch,” said Turney. “We’ll have kielbasa, pierogies with vadouvan butter and a pastrami hash.”
Within the next six months or so, Turney and Safran plan to convert a closet near the entrance into a to-go window for pop-up items (budino donuts, perhaps?).
What would Turney’s late grandparents think of her latest venture?
“My grandmother actually knew we were opening it and knew it was going to be called Bud & Marilyn’s. They would be totally happy, so proud.”