Small Plates and Big Ideas
March 05, 2012 | by by daniel gerzina | Food & Drink News
The Chicago dining scene is about to be uncorked. While a French “revolution” and trend toward casual Italian fare seem to have taken over local dining as of late, Mercadito partner Alfredo Sandoval and chef Ryan Poli have set their sights on something with Latin American and Spanish flair: Tavernita. Housed in the old Martini Park space, the restaurant has three separate high-energy areas under one roof: a formal sit-down dining room, a closed-off casual pintxo bar, and a late-night lounge.
Mercadito’s Mexican themes will be given a Spanish twist by award-winning chef Poli, who describes Tavernita as a “chef-driven concept experience.” Found among the kaleidoscope of tapas tastes are a crudo bar (featuring oysters and ceviche), crostini and tomato sofrito, and larger plates such as a wood-grilled roasted half-chicken and a decadent suckling pig confit.
But the most revolutionary concept at Tavernita will take place behind the bar, with its groundbreaking “kegged” cocktails, the first such beverage program in Chicago. Masterminded by the Tippling Bros., Tavernita will feature six rotating signature cocktails made with fresh juices and syrups, two sangrias, and 22 wines on tap. The results? A drastically reduced wait time for handmade cocktails; a minimized carbon footprint; and wines with fuller flavor due to a longer maturing process. The cocktail and tapas industries may never be the same. 151 W. Erie St., 312-274-1111.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY TAHLIER