Went with a colleague of mine to Tavernita for the beginning of Chef Week in Chicago, March 17th. As our first time to the restaurant, we were excited to try out the cuisine and get a feel of the place, after the good things we have heard about it. Tables and lounges made the place look comfy and cozy. This place is more like a casual bistro and lounge together, rather than a restaurant. They sat us down and we asked for the chef menu which the waiter didn't know about or that Tavernita is even part of the Chef Week. He checked and came out with the chef menu which was a sharing menu: choose two per table from the Raw Bar, the Salad Bar, one from the small plates, one from the large plates, and one dessert in which case we had a complimentary one and chose two. The food is delicious. Our favorite dish from the Raw Bar was the ceviche which had a citrus flavor and it was also a good combination with Grüner Veltliner white wine as the spices splash in your mouth giving you a savory finish. Our favorite dish from the Salad and Bites was the sausage empanada made with lamb, raisins, hazelnuts, and bacon vinaigrette. The empanadas were so tasty and had a hint of spicy in them once you crunch into it. We also had the brussels sprouts made with pork lomo, salsa verde, and blood orange from the Small Plates and Pastas menu and it was delicious. It was also a great combination with a glass of Chardonnay. I am not a fan of brussels sprouts, but they were delicious. From the Large Plates, we chose the wood grilled half chicken which came out in a big, round bowl. The chicken was made with wild mushrooms, green beans, and soy-honey sauce. The meat was crispy and tasty. Finally, after we were stuffed and decided to even take some of the food to go, we chose sorbet and brownie as our choices for dessert. The sorbet was our favorite of the two. It consisted of three small glasses sitting on a wooden block next to each other. Each glass had a different sorbet flavor. The first one was coconut and it was one of my favorites, the second was strawberry sorbet, and the third one was chocolate sorbet and my colleagues' favorite sorbet. The brownie was in a plate of its own and it consisted of ginger ice cream which was alright, strawberry cut in pieces on top of the ginger cream, and a scoop of coffee ice cream with bits of coffee beans in it. Everything mixed together with the strawberry made it a perfect combination as it was not so sweet and so exquisite.
Overall, the service was great when the servers came from the kitchen and described what each dish is and what it is made with. We also thought that it was great seeing the manager stop at our table to ask us what brings us to Chicago, to talk about the food, and what we like and ask him about his recommendations of the menu as well. Although, everything sounds perfect and it almost was, it was not without a flaw. During the large plates portion, I ordered a martini in which case the waiter recommended a Lemon Drop since it is a sweet flavor. I waited for the martini until we paid our bill. The martini never came and it was not on our bill, which may mean it was never ordered from the bartender. The manager also never introduced himself to us when he came to our table, he just came and started chatting us and we thought it was the manager as he was wearing an ivory blazer, apart from the waiter who was in black clothes. At the end of the night, leaving Tavernita, the manager came out again thanking us for coming and handed out his business card to each of us, in which case we read that he is the manager of Tavernita.
As a final note, I would recommend Tavernita for those who want to try something different, savory, and still be full by end of the night. A casual, bistro like lounge that is great for groups, couples, families, business lunch/dinner, and all alike. Out of 10, I would give Tavernita an 8.5 rating out of 10.