Benjy Levit’s new ‘urban treehouse’ wine bar blossoms in Rice Village

Rice Village has a new destination for wine and snacks. Lees Den, a new concept from Local Foods owner Benjy Levit, opens April 7.

Located above Local Foods Market, Lees Den offers a selections of wines by-the-glass and bottle paired with dishes that utilize seasonal ingredients. It replaces a lounge space that had been part of Benjy’s, the restaurant Levit closed in 2020 to create Local Foods Market.

To transform the 1,000-square-foot, 60-seat space, Levit tapped designer Brittany Vaughan of Garnish Designs, whose projects include Tiny Champions and Theodore Rex. The result is an urban treehouse vibe with wood floors and green velvet fabric covering the booths and banquettes.

General manager and certified sommelier Chrisanna Shewbart will oversee Lees’ wine list. The list includes a range of varietals by-the-glass, or customers may purchase a bottle from Local Foods Market with no corkage fee.

Chef Maria Gonzalez, a 12-year veteran of Benjy’s and Local Foods, has created a menu that mixes shareable small plates and with individual entrees. Dishes include Benjy’s Hurricane Popcorn with Korean red pepper salt and chocolate covered peanuts; Caviar Butter Milk Bread with smoked trout roe, Plugra Butter, and Japanese Milk Bread; and wood-roasted 44 Farms sirloin with potato puree and red wine reduction. 

“Just as we created Local Foods to feature all the great purveyors we knew, we created Lees Den to highlight the unique skills of Chrissana and Maria,” Levit said in a statement. “Their expertise clearly shines through this new concept.”

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