So we went to the new Spanish wine bar & tapas place, Vera, the other night. They’d only been open for like, 3 days. What can I say? I was really excited to try the place since it’s in my neighborhood, the West Loop, and I wanted it to become a new go-to. I feel like this area is lacking ‘neighborhood joints’. We have a bunch of really good restaurants over here, but they seem to all be on the pricier/nicer side. I was really hoping for a casual place with good quality food for a good price. I can’t say that Vera fit that bill but rather should be added to list of destination restaurants. Dang! Oh well. It’s still pretty cool place.
We started with a beautiful loaf of house made bread with a bunch of butters: garlic, duck crackling (aka fried skin) and sea urchin in addition to the obviously necessary EVOO. They were all quite delicious and I could have been happy simply eating the entire loaf of bread myself, but instead, we moved on.
We opted for a few cheeses from a list of about 10. Can’t go wrong with cheese, as far as I’m concerned. They had an option for 3 for $9 or 5 for $15. There was also a list of cured hams that I wish I could have created a combo plate from along with our cheese. Unfortunately, that was not an option though the owner/sommelier/wife who greeted our table during dinner informed us that it was a possibility depending on what the owner/chef/husband wanted to do in the future. I guess we’ll have to see next time. They have our vote.
Next came our mushroom-y goodness. Lots of sauteed mushrooms including cremini, shittake, and oyster over a wonderfully flavorful mushroom puree with micro greens. Mushroom overkill, you say? Never! It was fab.
The pork tenderloin came out a little rare even for me but was quickly corrected and turned out quite nice. I can’t say that I remember the sauce specifically, but there was certainly nothing wrong with it. I did enjoy the bitter salad at its side, though.
The cod was perfectly cooked and served with an much-better-than-average olive tapanade and sweet onions. Just look at how beautiful the sear is on that baby!
We agreed that we liked the interior. Nothing too fancy, which is what I was hoping for in my neighborhood joint, but comfortable and inviting. The bar’s options are limited, serving beer and wine only. That’s fine. Take it for what it is.
And there’s a tiny window into the kitchen, giving continuity but not allowing for nosey diners (such as myself) to gather any real details.
Overall, I enjoyed it, but honestly, I felt that the portions and simplicity weren’t necessarily in line with the price point. The proteins we ordered were priced like entrees but presented as… not quite small plates… but in no way large either. And, while I am quite fond of simple-done-well, I’m not sure it merits fairly elevated dollar value on the menu. That’s my only gripe.
The Short Version (Out of 10)…
Service: 6 (they’re brand new… not fair to judge yet.)
Overall impression: 7
Would I go back?
Yeah…. I’ll probably give it another go after they get a few months under their belts. They earned that, for sure.