If Mark and Liz Mendez have their way, you'll be speaking Spanish in no time. Or at least eating a lot of Spanish-inspired plates and getting introduced to Sherry. That's because their long-awaited wine bar, Vera, which was originally called Uva, is finally opening tonight in the West Loop. The intimate 65-seat space, in the former Rushmore location, features small plates, cheeses and great wine with a focus on European bottles.
The menu has food from the many regions of Spain, including bacalao with roasted garlic; grilled octopus with pimenton; black cod with clams and butifarra in a saffron broth; lamb albondigas with romesco; suckling pig confit; and, of course, paella made with rabbit and duck chorizo. In addition, 10 different cheeses will be available, drawing from both local farmers and Spanish purveyors.
The wine list, curated by Liz Mendez, is broken up into four categories: Old School Spain, New School Spain, The Neighbors (European wines) and The Americas, pulling together wines that pair well with Mark's food. Liz also wants to introduce people to Sherry and has a solid list of about a dozen bottles. And, pushing aside the idea that rosé is only for warm weather, bottles will be available year round here.
The best thing about Vera is that they don't take reservations, keeping the idea of a casual and approachable spot where you can pop in and sit at the cheese bar or grab a table and kick it with some friends over small plates and a killer bottle. Vera will be open nightly, except Mondays.