Opening this Thursday December 7th is BARVALE, the latest project from Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House restaurant group, its 22nd restaurant, but their first Spanish tapas bar concept. They are opening in the former La Urbana, right at the corner of Divisadero and Grove.
As mentioned earlier in tablehopper, Patricio “Pato” Duffoo is the executive chef, who is making most items in-house and will be utilizing the grill a great deal. His menu features two sections: cold and hot tapas. Cold tapas will be available for $6 per portion, or 3 for $15, served with grilled bread. Some examples include boquerones (cured white anchovies, spicy Iberian sauce); tortilla de patata, pimento aioli, frisée; and garbanzo and pimentón purée, piquillo, grilled bread, mint (their house version of hummus).
Some hot tapas include charred cauliflower, romesco, grilled lemon; grilled sardines, shallots, guindillas (small yellow pickled Basque peppers), olives; gambas (olive oil-poached prawns from the Gulf of Mexico), grilled bread; and tempranillo-braised oxtail, mashed potato, mirepoix. In a fun twist, you’ll be able to order paella (shrimp, mussels, clams, aioli, lemon) by the portion instead of having to commit to an entire pan. It will come out every 30 minutes.
Over at the bar, you’ll find three daily pintxos (bite-sized and served on a skewer)—since they are designed to be accompaniments to their cocktails, sherry, and wine, you’ll find them at the bar only.
Jessica Everett is behind the cocktail list, which will have four gin and tonics, including one on tap, which you can order by the carafe. Jessica and her team tasted more than 40 different gins and worked with gin’s aromatics and tonic’s bitter quality before landing on the four flavor profiles that will be represented in the gin and tonics. One of them (No. 4) features infused Bols genever with pink peppercorn, saffron, and cardamom. She also has a strong eco focus and does what she can to make sustainable choices for sourcing and storage, eliminating as much plastic wrap as possible (bless) and only using eco straws.
There’s the La Urbana, an homage to the previous tenant, with mezcal, apple brandy, palo cortado sherry, and housemade banana liqueur. Or you can go for a low-ABV drink like the Arencia Highball, with dry and sweet vermouths, manzanilla, soda. I’m looking forward to the Salty Spaniard, a spin on a Bamboo, with gin, fino sherry, dry vermouth, orange bitters. Cocktails are $12 and under and designed to be approachable and beautiful; check out the menu here.
There is also a complex wine and sherry list, featuring rare bottles sourced from friends in Spain, special wines (with a focus on certified organic and biodynamic wines), sherries, and ports. Two domestic Spanish-style wines from California are available on tap only and a bottle of completely natural and biodynamic txakolina is available as well.
The space is designed by Hannah Collins of Hannah Collins Designs, her 10th Back of the House restaurant. The spacious bar (with room for around 24) is the anchor of the restaurant, with a mural of a flamenco designer painted above the bar from local creative design studio Wall and Wall. There is also a communal table to the right, on decorative cement tiles (the original ones from La Urbana have been replaced). In the 65-seat dining room, there are punchy tomato red metal chairs, handmade pendant lights suspended with white rope, and tobacco banquettes.
In the former “Garaje,” the garage roll-up doors have been replaced with real walls and contained to create The Pintxo Room, which will be opening in early 2018 (end of Jan/early Feb). There’s a central bar, high-top communal tables, red terra-cotta walls, and art featuring a bull—all of which will create a dark, sexy space for large groups and private parties.
Open for dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-1am. They will only take reservations for parties of six or more. 661 Divisadero St. at Grove.
Barvale’s dining room and a section of the main bar. Photos: David Martinez.