Thursday, August 02, 2012

Good Things to Eat While Traveling - Vera in Chicago.

I was in Chicago recently and my pal Peter told me to try a Spanish place called Vera. Wow, glad that I did. There is an exciting Sherry list, the food is very good, and the staff are genuinely friendly and welcoming. The whole vibe is right - this place is a gem, and if you are in Chicago I highly recommend that you try it.

Okay, take a look at this Sherry list. One thing I noticed immediately is that they are pouring Bodegas Tradición by the glass! How could I resist beginning with a glass of the Palo Cortado, a wonderful wine that needs several days open before it really shows what it has to offer. The wine was absolutely singing, and the bartender told me that he opened the bottle several days previously - nice. By the way, Quade the bartender - he was warm, friendly, he had no ironic facial hair, nor did he interrupt a candle-making project in order to talk to me. He was a nice guy, relaxed, eager to make me feel welcome. I was very much aware that I was not in a Brooklyn restaurant...

I ate pinchos (skewers) of beef tongue with the Bodegas Tradición Palo Cortado and this was a very delicious thing, one of the better pairings I've had lately. This is chunks of tongue, crisp on the outside and melt-in-you mouth tender on the inside, its richness was tempered by a bright salsa verde.  This is a great dish, one that demands to be eaten at every visit.

Pinchos of octopus with olive oil and pimentón were tender, delicately smoky, and delicious. I'd like to eat them again, and this time with a great Manzanilla or Fino, maybe one that is on its way to becoming Amontillado, like Emilio Hidalgo La Panesa, or Equipo Navazos La Bota No 30. If I could suggest one thing for the Vera list, it would be to add more Fino and Manzanilla, but that's picking nits - there is plenty to drink already.

Yellow squash with hazelnuts, mint, and Romesco sauce, along with two Amontillados - Bodegas Tradición and the VORS El Maestro Sierra. Not bad, not bad at all. I also ate a delicious plate of Manilla clams with house-made chorizo along with two young Olorosos - Gutierrez Colosía Sangre y Trabajader and El Maestro Sierra.

Liz Mendez owns Vera with her husband Mark Mendez. They've been in the business for a long time and if my visit is any indication, they know how to take care of you. People of all types are eating at Vera - it's not a geeky Sherry bar, and there are plenty of things to drink if you don't want Sherry. But explain to me please why it is that you wouldn't want Sherry?

 Vera - 1023 West Lake Street in the happening West Loop neighborhood.


Salil said...

"But explain to me please why it is that you wouldn't want Sherry?"
(With tongue firmly in cheek) - one might have plenty of white Burgundy starting to age in the cellar?

In all seriousness, it sounds like a great place. I'll have to check it out when I'm next in Chicago.

Elizabeth Mendez said...

Thank you for the kind words, as well as for visiting us on your trip to Chicago. We love it when Sherry brings new friends together. And, we just added another new Fino, for you to enjoy on your next trip to Vera. Cheers!