What's next for chef Bernie Kantak, who left his longtime executive chef gig at Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz last year?
Kantak says his eclectic inspirations for the scrumptious-looking menu include memories of his German grandfather (who was a butcher), his Hungarian grandmother, and an assortment of Brazilians, Argentineans, and Mexicans he's worked with over the years.
Unusual bar snacks start things off: Tenderbelly bacon fat heirloom popcorn, four cheese fondue with smoked Hunter's sausage, pear, and toasted country bread, and "Citizen's sausage of the day."
Among starters like a mirliton chopped salad (Tenderbelly bacon, grilled chayote, snow pea greens, grape tomato, heirloom popcorn, grilled halloumi cheese, cucumber-onion salad and parsley-garlic dressing) and crispy squid with lemon-anise tartar sauce and pickled fennel, Kantak says he's particularly excited about the pork belly pastrami with rye spaetzle and sauerkraut.
There will be sandwiches like a lamb burger with tzatziki and a grilled cheese of the day, and a half a dozen entrees. I'm intrigued by the Fair Trade coffee-charred short ribs with dried cherry BBQ sauce, parsnip puree, and seasonal vegetables; pan-seared scallops with lardons, roasted corn grits, wilted snow pea greens, and Red Rock Cola gastrique; and brick-grilled Smart Chicken with charred scallion gremolata, brussels sprouts, and roasted farro wheat berry salad.
What about the atmosphere?
"I want a comfortable place, but I still want white tablecloths," Kantak says. The idea is to make the space look as if a designer had never stepped foot in it. He envisions lots of wood and a brushed nickel bar top.
Renovations will be extensive, but Kantak's hoping they'll also be swift.
"I gotta get back in the kitchen," he says.
We're pretty excited too, dude.
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