Q&A: Chef Ryan Poli, Tavernita, Chicago


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When we first started talking about the concept, I told my partner, Alfredo Sandoval, that I thought the corner bar should be closed off and its own entity with its own name, rather than just a place where people would wait for a table. I said, “Let’s do a pintxo bar, a stand-and-eat concept.” He didn’t say no, but he was kind of like when a kid says, “I want this,” and the parent says, “We’ll see.”

Then we went to Spain and started going to these pintxo bars, and he was sold. He said “Yes, we should absolutely do this. No one’s doing this.”

We think we’ve carved out a niche for ourselves in a market that hasn’t been tapped for a while.

What are the keg cocktails going to be like?

“Batchology” is what they’re calling it. There will be some sort of muddling or other showmanship in making the cocktail. Then a squirt from the keg, shake, pour in a glass and serve.

I think, at least for the Tippling Brothers, long gone are the days of lighting things on fire and carving ice. In a busy restaurant when you’re eating, you don’t want to wait 10 minutes for a second cocktail.

Are you going to change the menu frequently?

Of the 30-dish menu, there are probably going to be eight to 10 staples that we want people to come back for. The rest will change with the seasons, especially the vegetable dishes. The artichoke and beet salad will take on a different form in the summer — stone fruits or something. It’s not going to be an overhaul of the menu every two weeks like it was at Perennial. It’s too big a restaurant for that. We really want to be focus on consistency and being known for certain dishes.

But Barcita’s going to change daily based on whatever we have around.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
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