The Mackay Restaurant Group is continuing to tinker with Aqua by El Gaucho, installing an El Gaucho veteran as executive chef.
The management company last year announced it had "rebranded" its Waterfront Seafood Grill as Aqua by El Gaucho in order to play up the restaurant's connection to the popular Belltown steakhouse. The revised restaurant debuted under Peter Levine, a self-assured San Francisco-trained chef who joined the Waterfront team in 2008. (I reviewed Aqua during Levine's tenure, and didn't find much to like: My holiday gift to the chain was not compiling a worst dish list to bookend my Best of 2011 roundup.)
Levine this month was replaced by Steve Cain, who worked at Waterfront from 2000 to 2008, creating menu mainstays such as macaroni and cheese and sweet yellow corn. Cain's spent the last four years at El Gaucho Bellevue, serving as chef de cuisine.
"With our efforts to bring more of the El Gaucho brand into AQUA, it made the most sense to have a Chef in AQUA's kitchen who knew both restaurants well," spokeswoman Molly Schachter says.
Schachter wasn't sure of Levine's future plans.
"His next culinary adventure is unknown at this point, but we know he will land someplace soon where they will be lucky to have him," she says. "We wish him the best of luck."