Mercat’s Jaume Reixach tells us he plans to buck the tapas trend by shifting to a “bistronomic” model (you may recall the Times piece about Barcelona restaurants offering inventive, high-quality dishes at reasonable prices). The son of Catalan actor Fermí Reixach feels that some of the city’s tapas restaurants (and “bastardized” tapas restaurants, at that) get away with murder — “If you charged someone in Spain $13 for some of the shit that they serve, they’d throw it in your face.” Of course, his own restaurant has been somewhat complicit: “I’ve seen dishes served at Mercat for a price that in my heart I know I wouldn’t pay. That’s a horrible feeling.” His new approach, he says, will be more honest.
To keep costs down, Reixach is “destroying that hierarchy that existed in the kitchen” (his chef, Jean Georges alum Ryan Lowder, left in December), putting less of a premium on sourcing, and (as we’ve mentioned) inviting visiting Catalan chefs to stop in and contribute to the menu. The latest one, Oriol Colomer of Santa Maria and La Panxa del Bisbe, will be serving dishes such as Macaroni with Head Cheese and Beef from March 16 through March 24.
Reixach has already increased portion sizes and added new items. He says that trend will continue in the next weeks, and will be the model at Cap I Pota, his forthcoming restaurant at 65 Grand Street in Williamsburg. There, an open kitchen will serve homemade charcuterie and family-style dishes inspired by the Girona region to a 74-seat dining room. After that, he wants to open a twenty-seat restaurant in the West Village that will focus on fine Spanish cuisine. “We’re trying to fight off the tapas craze,” he says. “Some restaurants will say, ‘We’re just like in Spain because we make people stand up when they eat and we don’t take reservations. I’m like, fuck you, man! 85 percent of restaurants in Spain take reservations!”