Turk File

New faces and old spaces coming to Café V

by Christiaan Mader

With period restoring renovations ongoing, Café V welcomes chef Jonathan Kastner to the kitchen.

Photo Denny Culbert

When Café Vermilionville reopens for lunch and dinner June 1, it’ll have a new face in the kitchen and the start of an old look in the dining rooms.

Earlier this week, Café V co-owners Andrea Malcombe Veron and her husband Ken Veron parked their camper outside the stately façade of the historic Lafayette building on Pinhook Road and got to work on round-the-clock renovations in Café V’s side dining room (known casually as the Cypress Room) and welcome area, as well as modifications in the kitchen. They’ve also announced the addition of former Brick & Spoon executive chef and local food advocate Jonathan Kastner to the staff, forming a co-creative partnership with chef Tony Dinh.

Renovations to Café V's side dining room (known casually as the Cypress Room) will emphasize period-correct décor. The restaurant reopens for lunch June 1.

The renovations will emphasize period-correct décor, transforming cozy hearthiness into a brighter French Creole/Colonial atmosphere. Antique brick floors will replace the carpet in the Cypress Room, which will also feature Douglas fir beams overhead, a wall of reclaimed doors, an exterior window and delicate geometrical archwork.

The touches will create a sense of elegant yore more consistent with the building’s 19th century vintage. Starting with the greeting room, housed in the building’s front and oldest structure erected before 1835, Café V’s walls will be ivory white with the exception of the side gallery bar, which will remain as is to the rejoice of longtime regulars. The back of house will get a little reno love too with the addition of exterior windows to brighten up the workspace with natural light for Dinh, Kastner and their cooking staff.

With new faces and old spaces, Andrea Veron says she and her husband are committed to a vision for Café V that pairs the classic elegance of the historic structure with menu classics and new culinary ideas. The approach is playfully contemporary with overtones of antebellum stateliness.

While Andrea and Ken have been intimately involved in the design and renovation, they intend to remain hands off with the direction of the menu, trusting Dinh and Kastner to continue serving classic dishes alongside culinary couture that rotates with the seasons, giving the pair ample opportunity to get creative with fine dining.

“We want them to paint with a really broad brush," Andrea Veron says. "We’re not a concept restaurant. We just want to be known for good food.”

Antique brick floors will replace carpet in the restaurant's
side dining room.

While Café V has always involved local foodways and source concepts to its menu, Kastner intends to further integrate his background in slow food and farm partnerships developed through his work with the Acadiana Food Circle and his most recent gig at the Sam Fox concept True Food Kitchen in Houston.

The update, the first major renovations attempted at the site since the 1970s, will be comprehensive but ongoing even as Café V welcomes diners back early next week.

Current renovations will not touch the sunny main dining room adjacent to Café V’s courtyard, but expect to get a view of the progress when grabbing a seat at Café V over the next few weeks.

"We did all of the major stuff this week that required power tools, busting out walls, etc.," Andrea says. "And our crews are going to come in at 1 a.m. to 10 a.m. next week to finish it up. It's a really ambitious project."