HANK EXPANDS MARKET STREET EMPIRE

Restaurateur and hotelier Hank Holliday has taken over the old Bull and Finch/Bodacious Burger spot on Market Street, expanding his holdings from Planters Inn, Peninsula Grill, the Doubletree, the Hayne Street Inn, and Hank’s Seafood Restaurant to include an as-yet-unannounced new restaurant. Not only is he taking over the current lease, but he’s also purchased the building with business partner Steve Varn. Based on Holliday’s previous successes, we look forward to hearing more about his new venture. –Stephanie Barna

TWO NEW BISTROS

Two new European bistros are hitting the downtown food scene. First there’s Pino E Vino (bread and wine), a Mediterranean and Italian restaurant at 17 Warren Street (the former Zuppa), which owner Natasha Herron says is a perfect spot for girlfriends to grab a bottle of wine and a cheese plate or shrimp and lobster couscous. Herron wants it to “be like you’re in Italy,” so she gave the outdoor patio a rustic feel and added a line of smaller dishes made for pairing with European wines. Even though the menu includes mostly small items which run from $8-15, she says that it is not a tapas-style restaurant. “We’re a wine bar with lots of food,” she says. Pino E Vino is due to open for lunch this week. Herron’s husband owns Il Cortile Del Re, which is where Perig Goulet, the other new bistro owner, worked for several years.

Goulet recently struck out on his own and is putting a French restaurant at 432 King St. (in King Fish’s old spot). Goulet is confident about his new “bistro français.” There’s not a definite opening date yet, but when it does open, Goulet is offering traditional French “earthy food,” such as cassoulet (a bean stew with lamb, duck, and pork sausage) and real french fries, cooked in none other than duck fat. He also wants to keep his prices reasonable. “I don’t want to rip off the people. I want to keep them happy,” he says. Goulet is very proud of his heritage (he was born in Brittany, France), and says that the bistro atmosphere should remind customers of being in France. Look for the bistro to open around the beginning of December. –Katherine DuPre

THE BEST OF THE BEST

AAA recently announced its 2006 Four- and Five-Diamond hotel and restaurant ratings, and there weren’t too many surprises. The Wentworth Mansion and Woodlands Resort and Inn both stayed on the list as the only two five-diamond hotels in the area. As for restaurants, The Dining Room at Woodlands remains South Carolina’s only five-diamond dining spot. AAA’s website states that they give five diamonds only to establishments that “reflect the characteristics of the ultimate in luxury and sophistication.” Everything must be first-class and “extraordinary in every manner.” Oh, is that all? This year marks the tenth year that The Dining Room at Woodlands has topped the list. In the four-diamond category, Tristan was stripped of its diamonds after being closed and then sold. But don’t expect them to remain off the list for long. The Market restaurant reopened this past summer with new Chef Ciaran Duffy, who’s doing great things. First-timers on the four-diamond restaurant list are Cypress, Palmetto Cafe, and Ken Vedrinski’s Sienna on Daniel Island, which has impressed critics far and wide after being open for only a year. –KD