While having dinner at Brasa a few nights ago we got a chance to ask Alex Roberts what the time frame on the grand expansion was - and he was pretty forthcoming. He said they were on time and the contractors planned to be done in early june and he hoped to be open mid month. They will apparently have the signature scrolling doors and about 3 times the kitchen (he mentioned a stove big enough for soups and possibly playing with a smoker). As this one will be way closer to my house i am doubly excited, and given the success of Punch next door i think he hasn't got much to worry about, but we will see.
The food was excellent - i felt like my pork sandwich could have used another ounce or two of meat, but otherwise everything was great as ever. Cheese grits were extra cheesy (perfect) and they were running a special of guacamole with some really tasty chips which were basically just hard-fried versions of the masa cakes that accompany the sides plate. Really good. Plantains were good, if not as meltingly mushy as i would like them - they had excellent color and were probably perfectly cooked, i think the banana could have used another few days ripening. Someone asked for the cabbage salad that comes on the chicken sandwich to be served on the side, which meant i got to taste some and it was really good - i would consider ordering it as a side, with a light dressing and great mint flavor.
It was busy at 8 on a weeknight, which was promising, and it seemed like there was enough staff working that they could be training people in in preparation for the new opening.
Alex Roberts, incidentally, was very personable and genuine, and seemed sincerely interested in talking with us and getting some feedback. It was nice to see that face of the business and makes me feel even better about spending my money with him. When we mentioned a particularly good pasta special from alma this winter, he pretty much told us to email him and ask about it, and said that it is really important to him to treat repeat business well, and that he is there receiving emails and paying attention.