Step inside the world of Bom Bolla, the Cava haven that's opening either Thursday or Friday in Wicker Park. W. Craig Cooper (Pops For Champagne) and company have transformed the 4,350-square-foot building into a laid-back bar that takes its Spanish libations seriously.
The rehabbed landmarked building on Milwaukee Avenue is about 130 years old and the Pops team and designer Rachel Crowl (Matthias Merges' wife) have given it a Wicker Park edge thanks to a dose of punk rock attitude. "Wicker Park is associated with art and music and has a long history," partner W. Craig Cooper says. "We're trying to represent a contemporary and urban Spain rather than the times of yore and it makes sense to do that in Wicker Park." Pop-art illustrations set the tone, with Blondie's Debbie Harry in the front and The Clash's Mick Jones in the rear. There's also a hallway tagged with Spanish rock magazine covers, including several of Adam and The Ants, and 70s and 80s punk will play from the speakers.
A large 32-seat bar sits in the front of the long space and is topped with a sushi case that will house olives, cheese, nuts and salad, and is surrounded by tables and standing room. A hallway leads past an open kitchen with a wood-burning grill and rotisserie and into a 20-seat back dining area lined with wooden booths made from reclaimed church pews. Bom Bolla is derived from the Spanish word for bubble, and the design reflects that, as the circular light fixtures look like illuminated bubbles. There's no sidewalk seating but a second floor and rooftop should open in late summer.
Chef Matt Lair divides his menu into seven sections, all focused on small bites ranging from charcuterie, (featuring imported Spanish meats and cheese), to the bocadillo and montadito sandwiches (including leg of lamb with jus, hot pepper and anchovy spread). Pork-fried marcona almonds and a bevy of olives (like the empeltre olive soaked in sherry) highlight the picar (bites) section. Menu items range from $4 to $20.
Drinkwise, Cooper promises one of the country's largest selections of the Spanish wine Cava, and will also focus on sherry. There's 20 types of Cava available, including five by the glass, topping out with a $150 bottle of the Recaredo 2000 Turó d'en Mota Gran Reserva Brut Nature. There's also four cocktails, including Kalimotxo (red wine, Cassis, Coca-Cola and Fernet Branca over ice), costing $10 a pop, and a few beers.
Check out the full menus below.
Ashok Selvam contributed to this report.