Aug 9, 2020 - Food and Drink

VANA, a new restaurant from the team behind Bardo, opens Thursday in South End

VANA interior

VANA interior

The talented team behind Bardo, an intimate restaurant with a boundary-pushing cuisine and cocktail program, will debut its sophomore concept called VANA on Thursday, August 13 in South End.

VANA, the Sanskrit word for forest, is more laid-back than Bardo with glass-paned garage doors that open for an indoor/outdoor feel, a few TVs, and fun details like rosé gummy bear garnish in a cocktail.

Whereas Bardo was a chance to introduce Charlotte to chef Michael Noll’s culinary skills, VANA is an opportunity to have a little more fun, partner Jayson Whiteside says.

[Related Agenda guide: 2020 Rankings: The 20 best restaurants in Charlotte, right now]

The 72-seat restaurant is intimate like Bardo, with an open kitchen as the centerpiece. Much of the furniture in the restaurant is made of reclaimed wood and the decorative windows on the walls were salvaged from homes that Whiteside’s wife Jacqueline flipped.

Most of the restaurant was done by hand. It’s not as glamorous as people might think, Whiteside says. “Mike and I do what we can, and hire out what we can afford.”

Whiteside went to Appalachian State University, so you’ll see rustic nods to the mountains throughout the restaurant. Black Dove Interiors is behind the design.

Safety measures: Just like the safety measures at Bardo, VANA’s staff will have their temperatures checked every day and will all wear masks. Once open, VANA will operate at 50 percent capacity.

VANA team
Located just a few blocks apart, Bardo and VANA team members will rotate between locations. Pictured left to right: managing partner Jayson Whiteside, chef/partner Michael Noll, sous chef Matt Moore, mixologist Amanda Britton, and chef de cuisine William Underwood.

Food: VANA’s menu is rustic with a mix of tapas-style dishes and larger sharable plates like a 36-ounce tomahawk ribeye and a whole fish, which rotates seasonally. Many dishes are cooked on the fire hearth and in the pizza oven (!). The price point is a little lower than at Bardo, with dishes ranging from $7-$78.

VANA will also have brunch, lunch, and dinner menus, but is just opening with weekend brunch and dinner to start. After a few weeks, VANA will add lunch.

Drinks: Behind the bar, Bardo mixologist Amanda Britton plays off the kitchen’s wood-burning theme with a focus on barrel-aged whiskey and agave spirits. For summer, expect Britton’s cocktail menu to be refreshing. There’s also a “shot ski,” a ski you and a friend can take a shot off of. There will also be beer and wine available.

Location: VANA is located at 1440 S. Tryon St., Ste. 100. Find it on the corner of Summit and Tryon Streets.

Let’s take a look inside:

VANA exterior
VANA cocktails
VANA interior
VANA interior
Dishes here are truly wood-fired. Here’s VANA’s stash of wood.
VANA interior
VANA interior
VANA interior
This is a beeliner snapper. The whole fish selection will rotate with the season. Chef de cuisine William Underwood jokes each fish gets a name. The fish pictured here is named Alf.
VANA burrata
Burrata with a tomato jam, citrus vinaigrette, and ciabatta bread.
VANA food bone marrow
Chef Noll’s bone marrow is served with an onion marmalade.
VANA beer and whiskey
VANA will offer a beer and whiskey pairing on a rotating basis. The beers will all be cheap, but nostalgic, from each staff members’ home. First up is Whiteside’s Old German from Pittsburgh Brewing Company.
VANA shotski
With this “skotski” Whiteside gives a nod to his alma mater, App State. The idea is you and a friend use the ski to take a shot off of.
vana south end exterior bardo
VANA is located on the corner of Tryon and Summit in South End. It used to be home to a tile store.

Join us: This coverage is made possible and free to all (no paywall) with the help of Agenda Members. If you’d like to support more reporting like this, become an Agenda Member.

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