Michelle Bernstein

More on Michelle's Spanish Joint

Michelle Bernstein hopes to have her new tapas place open “before Art Basel”. She says the menu is “almost done”, and will include items such as boquerones, tortilla española, and artesanal Jamón Serrano. “We’re going to do blood sausage and stuff like that, and I’m playing with all different types of croquetas.” Other dishes she mentions are stewed rabbit over fried chic peas, and pork belly, “maybe with shaved kohlrabi on top of it.” The food won’t be exclusively Spanish, “because I love to play with flavor”, but the full bar will serve “all Spanish wines, and lots of jerez”. Michelle promises to keep prices “from four bucks to nineteen bucks, and that’s it”.

Ms. Bernstein doesn't seem concerned over the culinary challenge of opening by December. What takes time is doing pretty much a total overhaul of the not-so-old Domo Japones space. That task has been assigned to Michelle’s sister, who designed Michy's. “All those sexy posters are gone,” says Bernstein. “We are bringing in artwork from Spain, redoing all the banquettes in -- do you know that hot pink that the bullfighters wear on their socks? We’re using a lot of that color in the restaurant, plus a little bit of purple and some royal blues. Very Spanish colors.”

The remodeling necessitated covering up Domo's tall brick walls. “They look beautiful exposed”, Michelle explains, “but not very Spanish.” The former sushi bar will be replaced by the tapas bar, which is being “made to look like people have been smoking there for a hundred years.” She laughs, then adds, “In other words, giving it that little yellow tinge that comes from use.”

The moniker is still being mulled over. One possibility is Buena Vista, as that’s the name of the vintage Post Office that will house the restaurant. “I also like Rincon Quarenta,” says Michelle, “but the English translation, ‘corner of 40th’, doesn’t sound as sexy”.

-- Lee Klein

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