Even chef Andres Barrera admits City Winery had a clunky opening. "We hit a few bumps in the beginning there," Barrera says, "so I was sent out (in December) to see what I can do to help out." Barrera, the former executive chef at City Winery in New York, took over the kitchen, responding with menu changes aimed at highlighting local farm-raised cuisine and small plates to keep camped-out patrons eating. He says many of the original problems had to do with the kitchen opening just one day after assembling the staff and firing up kitchen equipment for the first time. "It reflected in the food, it refelected in the service," he says. "There were a lot of hiccups in the beginning."
The South Side native moved to New York in 2000, promptly gaining experience in Italian, French-Asian, and gourmet burgers, among others. He's using some of these diverse techniques and skills to pick up the pace and taste at the 300-seat wine and live-music-focused restaurant.
Barrera says the higher cost of seafood in the Midwest is causing him to make the menu less seafood-focused, replacing them with Missouri-bred meats and local vegetable dishes. He says the new small-plate menu makes for easier wine-pairings. His new winter menu is out now, let's see if it changes the perception.