City Paper is not for tourists
Bar Pilar chef Justin Bittner sounds pretty stoked to start serving his guests a proper dinner for once: “A craftsman always likes to put more on the table, right?”
The cozy, 49-seat 14th Street boîte has long attracted local foodies with its tantalizing selection of seasonal small plates. But the joint’s ongoing expansion, complete with a second-floor dining room that’s still under construction (see photos here and here) and some snazzy new kitchen gear to boot, will finally allow Bittner & Co. to begin cranking out actual entrées for a change.
The downstairs portion of the popular bar recently reopened and just resumed serving its usual brand of small plates last night. The upstairs dining room, meanwhile, is still a few weeks away from its grand opening.
Exactly what sorts of entrées Bittner will be serving when the place is fully operational, well, that’s a little fuzzy at moment. “We don’t have anything laid down just yet,” the chef tells Y&H.
That’s partly because of the wacky weather of late, which, for a guy who steadfastly sticks to seasonal ingredients, makes advanced menu planning somewhat difficult. “The seasons are crazy right now,” Bittner tells me on a recent 75-degree afternoon. “It’s weird. All the farms still have tubers, but then the spring vegetables are coming in. And we don’t cook out of season.”
One notable change from its pre-renovation MO: Pilar’s regular Tuesday night specials might not return—-a rather startling development to Y&H. The succulent cowboy steak that I dug into one Tuesday night at Pilar last year was among the best slabs of beef I’ve eaten in this city.
Bittner is expecting such a massive deluge of dinners when the place fully reopens that the former Tuesday night special might not even be necessary. “I’m under the assumption that we are going to get our asses kicked every single day we are open,” Bittner says. “And the Tuesday thing was just sort of a thing to punch up the business early in the week, and I don’t know if that’s going to be an issue, honestly.”
Photo by Chris Shott