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xxxIn the first few weeks as the new owner of Bentleys restaurant on Division Street, Brian Springer rewrote the menu, took down the pin stripe curtains and painted over the yellow walls and bright blue crown molding. But the name remains the same. "It's still Bentley's," said the 29 year old chef. "But it's our Bentley's now. Some people do not like change. When they have our Bentley's, they will hopefully keep coming."Brian, who lives in Southbury with wife Allyson and infant son Jacob, bought the restaurant. Over the past 15 years, Bentley's has become a much beloved eatery with a large and loyal following.

xxxIvy Ermer of Ridgefield, who eats there up to three days a week, said she wasx really sad to learn that Bentleys was being sold. "That is my place to go." But, much tox her surprise, the change in decor was perfect and the food's never been better. "Theyx still have the cosiness, but it is much more elegant,"said Ermer." "It's still my favoritex place - and now it's even better." Home made scones, breads and muffins madex Sunday brunch at the store front eatery famous. Brian has more ideas, for one thing,x the bright farm house look with hanging copper pots is gone. Instead, the walls arex elegantly painted to resemble cocoa brown leather and luxurious brown curtains arex pulled back with tarnish brass fixtures to give a view of the city's Wooster Square.

xxxBrian, seated at one of the restaurants thirty seats with cool New Orleans jazzx playing in the background, said his main focus is dinner. He wants to serve fresh foodx in a clean and friendly environment. "We are looking for everything-atmosphere, service and food," Brian said, describing the new ambience as relaxed. "It's mostly couples," he said. "It can be a romantic place. It can be a meeting place. And it's not so pricey it has to be once a month."

xxxUpscale Italian cuisine dominates the menu and includes penne pollo, a grilled chicken, spinach and mushroom dish with garlic and cream ($15), and grilled NY strip steak with shallots and sauteed baby spinach ($20). Luncheon highlights are the entree - size salads and sandwiches such as peppered turkey breast and grilled chicken Caesar salad wrap. Lunch prices range from $5 to $9.

xxxOne thing that hasn't changed is the Brunch. Every Sunday morning, the griddle is sizzling with omelets, pancakes and French toast. Even Eggs Bentley - 2 poached eggs on a toasted english muffin with ham and gorgonzola cheese and Bearnaise sauce - is still on the menu. ($8.50 with home fries).xEverything is home made, said Brian, referring to the breads and muffins. Desserts are also made on the premises.

xxxBrian who grew up in Bethel, graduated from Bethel High School in 1992. After graduating from Johnson and Wales Culinary School in Province, R.I., he worked at Scoozzi in New Haven. Before venturing into restaurant ownership, Brian was the head chef for six years at Julio's in Southbury.

 

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