The Food Biz: There is an Aura about Midtown

Ex-Quails owner reinvents former Virago space

The space on Division Street that formerly housed Virago has been reinvented as Aura. As I reported last month, Aura’s managing partner is Mathew Igwonobe, a food-biz veteran who previously owned the Brentwood restaurant Quails. Aura had two soft opening events last week and was scheduled to open officially on Friday.

Aura calls its food “world fusion cuisine” — Asian, Latin and Southern touches appear on the menu. A few of the dishes that popped up at the preview dinners include crawfish potato skins with citrus remoulade; beef chimichurri with zucchini strings; and a popular pasta dish that tops angel hair with duck breast, oyster mushrooms, asparagus and sweet peppers.

The team will serve dinner seven nights a week and lunch Monday through Friday (lunch won’t roll out until Oct. 22), but they also want to offer a convivial spot for drinks. There’s a long list of creative cocktails, made artisan-style with fresh juices and herbs, and 30 or so wines by the glass.

Aura is at 1811 Division St. The phone number is 730-8418. You can check out the menu at and book reservations online at OpenTable.

As opening date nears for M Restaurant and Bar, the new Cummins Station project from the couple behind Mack & Kate’s and Macke’s, we’ve learned that M will have a sister establishment just a few doors down — a market selling meat, artisan foods and deli treats.

While M is staking out a large newly appointed restaurant space near the center of the Cummins Station retail strip, the market — we hear it will be called, with the subtitle “meat market and delicatessen” — is taking over the nearby space left vacant by the recent closing of Joe Natural’s.

Owners Jan and Bernie Strawn threw a preview party for M Restaurant on Thursday (it was also a fundraiser for the cancer-fighting charity Linda’s Hope). They expect to open M on Nov. 1. There aren’t many details yet on, but it should launch around the same time. M is at 209 10th Ave. S., Suite 223, in Cummins Station; will be in Suite 213.

Another much-anticipated restaurant near downtown, Rolf and Daughters in the redeveloped Werthan Lofts in Germantown, is nearing opening. I checked in with the chef-owner, Philip Krajeck, and caught him as he headed off to load up on wood for decorating the ceiling of the restaurant, which is going into the former Werthan factory boiler building. (Matt Alexander of Holler Design is doing the furniture and supplying wood scraps from the company’s artisan sawmill in Lascassas, Tenn.)

Krajeck announced he’s hired a veteran general manager: Mollie Ward, formerly of chef Marc Murphy’s Landmarc in the Tribeca area of Manhattan. The team is shooting for an opening in early November. (Read more here.)

Finally, here are four more updates in what’s turning out to be another incredibly busy season for Nashville restaurant openings.

• Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, which has a devoted cult following in Memphis, has opened its first Nashville location, heralded for weeks on Twitter. (Read more here.) Surprising restaurant aficionados on both the West Side and the East Side, Gus’s chose to set up its first Nashville coop on the southern side of town, in the Nipper’s Corner neighborhood at 471 Old Hickory Blvd. near Edmonson Pike. The phone number is 331-4877.

• Meanwhile, fans of the venerable Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish in East Nashville can now visit a second Bolton’s location in the Melrose neighborhood. It’s in the former Luna space at 2309 Franklin Pike.

• The West Nashville landmark Bobbie’s Dairy Dip has launched its downtown spinoff, at 223 Fourth Ave. N. For now the hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 770-2770.

• And finally, work is continuing apace on M.L. Rose’s second location, at 4408 Charlotte Pike in West Nashville. The new pub is expected to open by the end of the year (hopefully in November).