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A new look: The Castle restaurant adopts updated ambiance

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The Castle recently resumed operations in its home at Dunlieth’s former carriage house following renovations that resulted in a brighter ambiance. From left, Jackie White, Cheryl LeBlanc and Moe LeBlanc dine at the Castle Restaurant and Pub. (Sam Gause/The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Castles are known for being strong fortresses, but they aren’t always known for being well lit with natural light.

But while a giant broadsword still hangs on the wall at The Castle Restaurant and Pub these days, things are feeling a whole lot brighter than they would in the medieval structures the building resembles.

The Castle Restaurant and Pub, located in what was once the carriage house on the grounds of Dunleith Historic Inn, recently resumed operations in its 1790’s-built home following three weeks of renovations.

The change in ambiance came after the restaurant’s white plaster ceiling was removed to expose the building’s rafters and all of the drywall was also removed and replaced with willow wood.

“It has definitely brightened the place right up,” cook Glyn Harris said.

Dunleith Assistant General Manager Lyn Fortenbery said the interior renovations coincided with other improvements at the restaurant.

“We wanted to give it a more rustic look,” Fortenbery said.

“The roof needed some work, so we decided to take the whole approach and update the atmosphere in here.”

Catering Sales Manager Bryan Johnson said everyone has been “very happy” with how things turned out.

“It was really a breath of fresh air for the staff and customers, and it was really nice to see the natural beauty of the wood exposed with the rafters,” Johnson said. “It is definitely a different feel.”

During the construction, the restaurant continued business temporarily inside the main house at Dunleith, which serves as a 22-bedroom luxury hotel. The Castle’s home in the carriage house was closed from Jan. 5 to Jan. 30.

“We were glad to be able to take the opportunity to offer a unique experience for the locals — and out-of-towners — to get a chance to dine in the main house,” Fortenbery said.

Shortly before the renovations started, the Castle also added a number of items to its menus, including but not limited to items such as family style lobster mac-n-cheese and redfish courtboullion.

Fortenbery described the menu as “southern creole fusion.”

“We are still going to offer our same daily specials, but we decided there are some things we will try on the menu that will mean change, but we wanted to go to a more modern menu and wanted to offer something that other restaurants couldn’t,” she said.

The process in choosing new items wasn’t a quick one, Fortenbery said.

“We spent several weeks if not months going over ideas,” she said.

“The chefs did a lot of menu tasting meetings going over ideas, and they probably tried 14 different types of bacon cheeseburger before we found the one we liked.”

The Castle’s Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner menus can be viewed online at dunleith.com/inn/the-castle-restuarant.cfm.

Breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily

Lunch is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, with an extended breakfast during those same hours on Sunday.

Dinner is served 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Friday and Saturday.

The Pub is open daily at 4 p.m.