New restaurant strives for a new atmosphere

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2000

With a fire in the brick fireplace already warming the room and employees bustling about, The Castle at Dunleith was busy Thursday afternoon preparing for the second night of operation.

The new restaurant, which also has a downstairs pub, held its grand opening Saturday night. The menu – from steamed clams with chardonnay to paneed rabbit tossed with fettuccine to herb-crusted rack of lamb – caters to an upscale, casual dining experience, said Rene Adams, assistant manager at Dunleith. The restaurant is the third in Natchez to feature the talents of executive chef John-Martin Terranova. His first was Liza’s; the second, John-Martin’s, is still open, but Terranova no longer works there.

&uot;Each one’s gotten progressively better,&uot; Terranova said of the restaurants he has helmed. &uot;But this is the piece de r\u00E9sistance.&uot;

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&uot;It’s his wonderful personality and regional following that’s made this a success from the beginning,&uot; Adams said.

Located in a circa 1790s carriage house behind Dunleith, The Castle will be open for dinner seven nights a week, and for lunch for special groups and meetings.

The restaurant has been part of the vision of the Worley family, the new owners of Dunleith, since they bought it just more than a year ago, said Mike Worley.

&uot;We’re excited,&uot; he said. &uot;The restaurant is my dad’s invention. With the addition of John-Martin to the staff it became evident that this needed to happen.&uot;

Terranova couldn’t choose his favorite item from the menu.

&uot;There’s no one best thing,&uot; he said. &uot;We have homemade desserts, fresh seafood, top quality beef and lamb. It’s all equally good.&uot;

Dunleith General Manager John Holyoke said the atmosphere of the restaurant – and its downstairs pub – sets it apart from others in Natchez.

And while some restaurants do not survive expectations, Holyoke sees a long future for The Castle.

&uot;The key players – the maitre’ d and chef – will be here for a long time,&uot; Holyoke said. &uot;When you get to this level of commitment … and dedication from the Worleys, we’re going to be here for a long time.&uot;