Jack and Karen Huang hired Josef Centeno (Lot 1, Opus) to rewrite Bar Celona’s menu. Tonight, Centeno showcased selections from his new menu at the Spanish restaurant in Old Town Pasadena. Wait staff circulated with platters of flaky chicken empanadas, chicken liver conserva crostini with bacon, smoked salmon conserva crostini, pork shoulder conserva crostini, grilled jumbo shrimp skewers, pork croquetas, fried boquerones, blistered Padron peppers, whipped salt cod, Cabrales-stuffed dates wrapped with jamon Serrano and glasses of citrus-marinated yellowtail with heirloom tomato salad.
The media event was in the bar and Centeno stayed in the restaurant kitchen, facilitating dishes. He said he spent a month at Bar Celona revamping the menu and training kitchen staff. He’s a consultant, not full time, but he checks in at Bar Celona on a regular basis to ensure the dishes are made as instructed. Centeno is currently hunting downtown for his own restaurant space. He hopes to open an 80-100 seat restaurant, including bar, on the ground floor of one of the new downtown lofts. Roving publicist Dan Cox said that Centeno will probably partner on the restaurant with revered sommelier Caitlin Stansbury, who recently left Brix@1601. If Centeno and Stansbury are unable to secure a space, Centeno plans to cook “guerrilla style” for a couple years in Little Tokyo with an unnamed chef friend, possibly in Honda Plaza.
There was some serious mixology talent behind the bar, including Sydney native Damian Windsor (previously of Gordon Ramsay at The London, Seven Grand and The Hungry Cat), Eric Alperin (formerly of The Doheny) and Marcos Tello of The Edison.
Windsor showed up to prepare his submission for the Travel + Leisure Beverage Arts Challenge. Each “Montresor & Fortunato” – which Windsor’s wife named for two characters in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Cask of Amontillado” – contains 1.5 oz. Emilio Lustav Amontillado Sherry, .75 oz. Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, .5 oz. Carpano Antica Formula, 1 orange peel, 1 lemon peel and a garnish of 3 large (pitted) Spanish olives. Click on the above link to vote for Windsor’s cocktail and enter to win a trip to…Los Angeles! Oh, wait, you’re already here. Instead, if you win, Travel + Leisure will pay you the cost of a plane ticket to L.A.
Windsor will likely rewrite Bar Celona’s cocktail menu in the near future. He also plans to design the cocktail menu for a new bar that may debut in December in the former La Cienega home of the Coronet Theatre. That means the unnamed owners will open their bar adjacent to Largo. Windsor said that possible names are The Little Room and The Green Room.
Marcos Tello mixed a Grand Marnier Smash. Tello said the Smash was a popular family of cocktails in the 1850s. The brandy Smash was the most popular, containing muddled sugar and mint leaves. Tello’s modern version uses Grand Marnier, which is still in the brandy family. Marcos added lemon, since people like citrus, and doesn’t use sugar, since Grand Marnier is already sweet enough.
A Seven Grand bartender was also on hand, and he revealed that Alperin is gearing up to open a new bar called The Varnish behind Cole’s, also from 213 and Cedd Moses.
In-demand restaurant designer Kristofer Keith normally hangs in Hollywood, but even he made the drive to Old Town. He said he’s a little less than a month away from the public opening of Delux, his new Art Deco restaurant on Cahuenga, with a menu from The Foundry chef-owner Eric Greenspan.