Andros Taverna owners to open Spanish steakhouse Asador Bastian: ‘Our answer to almost any request will be, ‘Yes.’’
Doug Psaltis and Hsing Chen, the couple behind Andros Taverna in Logan Square, plan to open Asador Bastian in the next few weeks. The two-story project is located in the Flair House, a historic River North townhouse.
While their first restaurant looked to Greece for inspiration, this time they hope to explore the asadores, or grill houses, of San Sebastian, Spain. Psaltis, who previously ran RPM Steak by Lettuce Entertain You, explained that the format will be slightly different from most American steakhouses. “This is a place where we share a steak,” Psaltis said. “It’s not like, ‘Who is going to get the 36-ounce rib-eye?’”
Chen said that the sense of balance extends to the sides and dessert. “We want to serve the best quality products in moderation,” Chen said.
Psaltis is particularly excited to serve a distinctly Spanish beef cut called txuleton, a very thick bone-in rib steak. (If you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend looking up the cut on YouTube, if only to appreciate how happy the Spanish chefs look while grilling it.) Like Andros Taverna, they’ll also be importing fresh fish from markets in Barcelona and Athens.
Most of the meat and seafood will be cooked on a massive charcoal grill that was custom-made for them in Europe. “It was modeled on some of the great asadores in Spain,” Psaltis said. Along with a large area to grill food, it has multiple shelves, allowing the cooks to use it much like an oven.
Chen, who heads the pastry program, said she even plans to use the grill. “Because the live-fire grill is such an integral part of the menu, I’ll incorporate that into the desserts,” Chen said. “There will be smoked milk, which they use in Spain.” She’s also created a collection of small desserts she hopes to serve at the downstairs bar, along with some classic options in the upstairs dining room. “Up (in the dining room) we’ll have some tableside service, like a rum cake that we slice to order, along with a refreshing granita,” Chen said.
While overseen by Psaltis and Chen, the kitchen will be run by chef Christian Eckmann, a Chicago native, who has also worked in Spain. “I met him originally when he was in San Sebastian working at Arzak, which is one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country,” Psaltis said. Eckmann also worked at the now-closed Ambria in Lincoln Park.
The restaurant is in the Flair House (214 W. Erie St.), a River North townhouse built in 1883. It gained notoriety thanks to Lee Flaherty, who purchased the property in the 1960s and used it for his marketing agency, Flair Communications. According to Psaltis, it’s a location the couple knows well. “Hsing and I have lived in this neighborhood for the last 12 years and walk past it most days,” Psaltis said.
Though the building has a storied reputation, once construction began the crew realized that the building needed an immense amount of work. “As with most restorations, you break down one wall and you find a lot more walls that need to come down,” Psaltis said. “We found that the brick behind the facade was really a hodgepodge with mud. It’s not as you would build it today. So when it got down to it, the facade stayed, and everything else has been rebuilt.”
The two worked with David M. Sullivan Inc., a New York-based design firm, to create a space that evoked the old chophouses of Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th century. “We went back and forth on the word chophouse because it’s maybe been bastardized in some ways,” Psaltis said. “But our inspiration came from the classic Chicago chophouses and the asadores from Spain.”
Guests will enter by stepping down into the more casual bar area, which seats 35. A 55-seat dining room is on the second floor and will be reservation-only. Though some items, such as Chen’s small dessert bites, will only be on the bar menu, the two aren’t making a huge distinction between the two spaces. “Our answer to almost any request will be, ‘Yes.’” Psaltis said.
Although the space is still under construction, they hope to open Asador Bastian within the next two to three weeks.
“It’s about boutique beef and premium products,” Psaltis said. “Quality without any compromise.”
Asador Bastian plans to open in March at 214 W. Erie St. asadorbastian.com