About 10 years ago, chef Luis Roger was happily employed as an executive chef at a privately owned, 16th century estate called Mas Anglada in Costa Brava, Spain. The food he cooked was simple. He used the freshest ingredients he could source from the local area -- which was rich with fresh seafood and farm-fresh produce -- to create his own brand of modern Spanish cuisine, rooted in the traditions that he'd learned while growing up. Life was good.
One day, Houston-based businessman Ignacio Torras approached him after dining at the estate. Recalls Roger, "This gentleman gave me a business card and he told me 'If you ever want to open your own restaurant, give me a call' -- and then he left." At the time, Roger, who was happy with his situation in Spain, didn't consider the possibility.
"Every year, he sent me an email. 'Hey Luis, how are you doing, how is your family? By the way, remember? I'm still thinking about that restaurant, so if you change your mind, give me a call.'" This went on year after year until two years ago, when Roger says "I had started to have the desire to open my own restaurant." Roger decided to make a stop in Houston on the way to his best friend's wedding in Panama. During that visit, he met with Torras, and began the project that is now BCN Taste & Tradition.
BCN is the three-letter abbreviation for Barcelona. Located in the heart of Montrose near the corner of Montrose and Richmond, BCN is housed in a 1920's era home. Saturday night marked the first evening that it was open to the public. San Antonio-based architect and designer Augustin Orozco created a space that is evocative of the sleek, minimalist style so prevalent in Spanish architecture today, while complementing the original period details of the building.
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Inside, a shiny white bar area with 10 seats, and an intimate, upscale, 54-seat Spanish fine dining experience awaits. The details suggest that chef and staff aspire to something that is not only authentically Spanish, but extraordinary. Staff are clad in grey suits by Spanish retailer Zara. All plateware, cutlery, and glassware have been imported from Spanish industrial design house, Pordamsa. Throughout the space, original artwork by Spanish artists Picasso and Joan Miro subtly reinforce the restaurant's Spanish ethos.
In the front of the house, fine dining industry veteran Paco Calza, who is originally from Galicia, Spain (Calza spent nearly 30 years with Robert del Grande at Cafe Annie and RDG + Bar Annie), will serve as general manager and oversee the restaurant's Spanish-focused wine list and beverage program, which will include what is promised to be "an incredible gin and tonic."
From the kitchen, Roger and his team offer an enticing menu of items that include prized Jamon Iberico de Bellota ( a highly sought after, cured prosciutto made from free-range pigs that subsist almost entirely on acorns), dishes that feature Spanish anchovies, Mejillones al Vapor (steamed mussels), Huevo Rotos (fried potatoes, free range eggs over easy, and a choice of jamon Iberico or seared foie gras), Carrilleras de Cerdo Guisadas (stewed pork cheeks in wine ragout with sautéed artichokes and prawns), and Caldereta de Bogavante con Arroz (a type of lobster bouillabaisse with rice). For the carnivore, local grass-fed beef in cuts such as tenderloin and a Cowboy Steak of bone-in rib eye are offered, while desserts feature items like Crema Catalana (Catalan cream custard).
BCN Taste & Tradition is now open for dinner. Hours of operation are: Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Lunch service will begin on October 7, 2014, Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.