Openings: The Regional debuts at CityPlace sooner than you think

Top Chef: Lindsay Autry in The Regional's main dining room. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Top Chef: Lindsay Autry brings Southern soul to The Regional. (Bruce R. Bennett/ Palm Beach Post)

After spending nearly two years vacant, the cavernous CityPlace restaurant space is filled with the buttery aromas of baking Parker House rolls, freshly made, fruit-filled hand pies and home-baked club crackers.

The scents now wafting from The Regional Kitchen & Public House are evidence executive chef Lindsay Autry and her team are finessing details for next week’s debut.

The Regional is slated to open to the public for dinner service on Saturday Sept. 10. Several friends-and-family meals are planned for earlier in the week, followed by an invitation-only “housewarming” party on Friday, Sept. 9.

Hot stuff: The Regional's Parker House Rolls with seasonal butter, by pastry chef Sarah Sipe. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Hot stuff: Parker House Rolls with seasonal butter. (Bruce R. Bennett / Palm Beach Post)

The heavy lifting – the renovation, the décor, the principal staffing, even the arrival of 4000 premium wines in four shipments – is finished. Restaurateur Thierry Beaud (Pistache, PB Catch) and managing partner Autry have breathed warmth and light into the 10,000-square-foot space once occupied by Pampas Grille, which closed in October 2014. (Other previous inhabitants include McCormick & Schmick’s and Columbia Restaurant.)

Beaud’s TITOU restaurant group created cozy, manageable dining and drinking areas and a separate, funky bar/ lounge that can close itself off to the larger restaurant and party on its own. Even the hostess stand is unique — it doubles as a concierge desk, where diners can learn about local shows, shopping and other events.

The full reveal is a concept that’s driven by copious amounts of Southern soul.

To that point: The place will offer tableside pimento cheese with a variety of mix-ins. (And, yes, it involves Duke’s mayonnaise and homemade hot sauce.)

Executive Chef Lindsay Autry revs up the table-side pimento cheese. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Pimento cheese, please: It’s made table-side at The Regional. (Bruce R. Bennett / Palm Beach Post)

The menu alone is more than an eclectic listing of tempting dishes. It’s the abbreviated autobiography of a young, rising chef coming into her own.

“I’ve had a lot of time to write a million menus and scratch them all up. But what I feel really good about is that this menu is kind of an expression of all of my experiences as a chef,” says Autry, a Bravo “Top Chef” alum well known to South Florida dining enthusiasts. “I feel the menu is a true expression of me, not only as a chef but of me as a person.”

Pimento cheese, please: It's prepared table-side at The Regional. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Pimento cheese, with mix-ins.

Up to now, we’ve seen glimmers of this chef as she’s led other kitchens (Sundy House, Michelle Bernstein at The Omphoy) and headlined local culinary pop-ups and festivals. But this menu promises something greater: the work of a cook who syncs her chef-fy skills with her Southern heart.

The menu pays tribute to North Carolina-born Autry’s Southern roots, Mediterranean influences (from her Greek grandmother), and cooking experiences in South Florida and Mexico.

Such a mashup inspires menu items like Country Ham Carpaccio with cornbread sticks, apple slaw, clothbound cheddar and pepper jelly, and Roasted Bone Marrow with pickled shallots and crispy onions, and sweet-tea brined Fried Chicken Thighs with bread and butter pickles, and Grilled Snapper in Banana Leaf with green tomato salsa verde, and Red Wattle Pork Shank with creamed hominy and braised greens.

The Regional's bar and lounge is dubbed the Public House. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

The Regional’s bar and lounge is dubbed the Public House. (Bruce R. Bennett / Palm Beach Post)

As the menu suggests, The Regional incorporates fine dining elements without being stuffy or overly precious. Autry says this is her preferred balance in cooking.

“Most of my experience has been fine dining, and I still like fancy and pretty things, and I like being a chef and taking my time to cure things and cook for days, but I want food to be approachable,” says Autry. “And what I love is taking nostalgic things, like pimento cheese for instance, and taking my experience as a chef and making that even better.”

THE REGIONAL KITCHEN & PUBLIC HOUSE

651 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-557-6460; EatRegional.com

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