• Joe Bachmann
  • Vera’s Mackerel escabeche with romesco sauce

Mike Sula reviews Vera, the new Spanish wine bar from husband-and-wife team Mark (chef) and Liz (sommelier/front of the house) Mendez. Both Mendezes spent years at the 600-seat juggernaut Carnivale, but their new project eschews theatrics and size in favor of simplicity. There are no desserts, for example, just a selection of cheeses that when paired with some ham and a few glasses of wine could make a meal in itself. The menu’s four additional sections—Fish, Bread & Butter, Vegetable, and Meat—supplement these with dishes such as mackerel escabeche “lightened and brightened” with romesco sauce, an unusual paella made with rabbit and sliced duck breast, vegetables like roasted turnips with espelette, and still more standout fish dishes. Sula was so won over that he doesn’t even carp much about paying $6 for bread service, which in this case comes in the form of a boule with superior olive oil and a trio of compound butters, including duck crackling and goat butters.