Chef Chat: Kurtis Smith at Dorian

Say hello to Chef Kurtis Smith of Old Town’s Dorian restaurant.

Tell us about Dorian.

Dorian is based off the popular Oscar Wilde book. It’s a welcoming upscale restaurant with a unique decor that mixes modern with Old World Victorian. The small seasonal menu is American home cooking elevated. You’ll find familiar favorites executed with a twist.  The round marble bar is a focal point and there is a statue around the bar that changes with lighting at night to represent Dorian Gray’s struggles as he ages.  Dorian is open for breakfast, happy hour and dinner seven days a week.  The bar menu is discounted Monday to Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. and features craft cocktails and an extensive Champagne, wine and beer list.

How did you get into the dining realm? 

I started in the culinary world as a line cook and worked my way to becoming executive chef. I have always had a passion for food and believe that food should taste good first and foremost, and everything else is secondary. You may have the prettiest plating, but if the food isn’t delicious, what is the point?

Old Town is chock-full of amazing dining. How do you set Dorian apart from the rest? 

The atmosphere and service level at Dorian set it far above anything else you will find in Old Town. We offer full breakfast and dinner seven days a week, something that is rare to find in Old Town, as well as happy hour Monday to Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. There is nowhere else in town where you can enjoy home-style chilaquiles while surrounded by crushed velvet and chandeliers, or a handcrafted cocktail on a plush sofa during happy hour. It’s a perfect place for date night, a special occasion or group outing.

What do you consider the restaurant’s can’t-miss dish? 

I have spent 10 years perfecting the recipe for the braised short ribs, and you can definitely taste the dedication to this dish. It is served over a bed of white cheddar polenta with a house made mushroom-bourbon demi glace drizzled on top.

What is the most rewarding part of your career? Most challenging? 

The most rewarding part of my career is the ability to create simple dishes that are full of flavor and make people want more. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the joy on a customer’s face when they are truly enjoying the food I am making.

The most challenging part of my career is coming up with new recipes that push customers to try new things that they may not have normally ordered, like our grilled octopus. This is a dish that people may be apprehensive about ordering, but the combination of the octopus, balsamic vinegar, cherry tomatoes, and shallots creates a flavor profile that leaves you wanting more.

What are your hopes for the restaurant long-term?

My hopes for Dorian is to be an established part of Old Town in the years to come. A place where the staff knows you by name and what you are going to order before you even sit down. A place where you know the food is going to be amazing 100 percent of the time, and where you can come for breakfast and happy hour in the same day.

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