1. An acclaimed chef.
2. A wine selection that gets your attention.
3. Ham flights.
And not even necessarily in that order.
So welcome to Vera, opening Wednesday in the West Loop—a superb little den for impromptu dates where a well-timed Marcona almond and the right glass of sherry might change the entire course of your life. Or night.
You don’t need reservations. Just swing in and grab a seat at the bar—by which, naturally, we mean the cheese bar. Start with that ham flight (serrano, ibérico, prosciutto) and pair it with a sherry aperitif—they’re big on sherry here. Once you’re properly situated in the Iberian head space, the rest of your evening will unfold over rabbit-and-duck-chorizo paella, lamb meatballs and a bottle of an earthy grenache.
This place is a nice breather in a neighborhood filled with sci-fi cocktail lounges and celebrity chefs. With exposed brick and warm colors, it will remind you of those crowded mom-and-pop joints you hit during adventures through Spain. The difference: Pop is Mark Mendez, late of Carnivale, and Mom is his wife, Elizabeth, a sommelier.
You’ve always felt a certain kinship with sommeliers.