Aatxe

Basque in the Glory

Tapas and G and Ts in the Swedish American Hall

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Aatxe (n):

1. A cave-dwelling, shape-shifting guardian spirit in Basque folk mythology (translation: “young bull”) that arises from his lair, most often in stormy weather, to attack the malevolent.

2. Your new tapas date spot.

Right. Aatxe, a new Basque-inspired restaurant, is now taking reservations for a Friday debut in the Swedish American Hall, above what’ll soon be an intimate music spot called Cafe du Nord.

The whole space has a real old-world Spanish vibe, with all requisite patinated mirrors. (Here’s a slideshow.) You might lead your date hand-on-waist to the red leather café stools at the marble-topped bar, where the on-tap gin and tonics are born. Also: Pedro Romeros, with gin, sherry, red-bell-pepper cordial and almond bitters. And yes. The Trick Dog crew is indeed doing the drinks here. Great call.

On your way to the chef’s counter for dinner, you’ll glance at the communal table and think about a future preshow situation—when you can order things from the California-style Basque menu, like octopus with kohlrabi and avocado or the mussels escabeche, that you may not get to tonight.

And at that counter, you’ll be facing into the sunken open kitchen. They call it “the bullpen.”

But it’s really just a kitchen.

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