TUCSON, Ariz. — The culinary minds behind Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink are opening their newest project, BATA, on Wednesday, March 9 at 35 E. Toole Ave.
If you're familiar with the area — Tucson’s Warehouse Arts District — it's going to be a perfect addition on Toole Avenue, giving downtown wanderers a new place to eat near Borderlands Brewing Company and Solar Culture. The restaurant has moved into a 1930’s historic warehouse that has been completely reimagined, with original wood and metal bow truss ceilings that contrast with contemporary touches. One of those features is the shou sugi ban soffit, which is an ancient Japanese architectural technique used to preserve wood by charring the surface with a hot flame.
Over in the BATA kitchen is a custom live-fire hearth, where chef Tyler Fenton and the crew, which includes chef de cuisine David Solorzano — a veteran on the local culinary scene — will be drawing influence from global techniques.
"Each of the 18 or so dishes on our menu will be touched by fire in some way," said Fenton, BATA’s owner and executive chef. "Some are small and subtle, others are bold and in-your-face, and we want to showcase the entire range that cooking with fire represents."
Among the dishes with more subtle expressions of fire is the Beef Tartare, garnished with a fermented and flame-dried green onion powder. Fenton says will "deliver just a hint of smoke in a cold, raw dish." Then over on the stronger side of the spectrum, Fenton says the Grilled Pork Belly, "served with a jet-black sauce made from several ingredients that are burned in the fireplace," will offer a good amount of smokey depth.
You can't forget about the vegetables either because they're taking center stage on most of the menu. You can expect to find a handful of vegetarian dishes and adjustments can be made to some of them for those adopting a vegan lifestyle.
The small plate-format menu will evolve on a daily basis as the restaurant focuses on in-house whole animal butchery as well as sourcing produce locally. Additionally, the culinary team will be milling Arizona-grown grains every day for the nightly menu.
BATA Dinner Menu
- Ash Roasted Beet Tartlet - with cultured cream ($5)
- Grilled Oyster Mushroom Skewer - with barbecue beet ($6)
- Crispy Lions Mane Nuggets -with preserved truffle and buttermilk ($9)
- Turnip Tostada - with nopales escabeche and herbs ($6)
- Grilled Fermented Potato Bread - with cultured butter ($6)
- Malawach - with labne, fermented tomato, and cured egg yolk ($10)
- Fermented Onion Crisps -with potato espuma ($6)
- Dry-Aged Beef Tartare - with buttermilk, black sunchoke, and a white Sonoran wheat tortilla ($16)
- King Kampachi Tartare - with rhubarb, makrut lime, mint, and bib lettuce cups ($16)
- Chewy Carrots - ajo blanco and cilantro ($12)
- Smoked Cauliflower Chawanmushi - with allium dashi and chive ($14)
- Freshly Milled San Xavier Co-Op Corn Polenta - with Lions Mane mushroom, and bay laurel oil ($12)
- Grilled Pork Belly - with charred onion and kohlrabi ($15)
- Charred Brussels Sprouts - with black apple and salsa seca ($12)
- Roasted Cauliflower - with smoked onion soubise and black garlic ($14)
- Honey Nut Squash - with a sauce of its seeds and skin, and smoked butter ($15)
- Slow-Cooked SD Halibut - with mushroom dashi, Arizona barley, and charred kale ($30)
- Pork Loin - with charred squash, pecan, and coffee amino ($28)
- Chocolate Mousse - with smoked almond tart and Arizona olive oil ($13)
- Sourdough Ice Cream - with whey granita and hearth dried dates ($14)
- Koji Ice Cream - with corn tostadas and embered caramel shell ($10)
Cocktail, wine & beer, oh my
On the beverage side, guests will see a thoughtfully curated list of cocktails, wines, beers, and spirits that Fenton says is approachable enough to "strip away guest decision paralysis." Longtime Tucson barman Karl Goranowski, who serves as corporate beverage director, has some tasty creations up their sleeve.
Among BATA’s six signature and rotating cocktails are the Chiricahua, with mezcal, Oaxacan rum, cherry shrub, and egg white, the Bigelow, with BATA gin selection, dry vermouth, fino, rosehip bitters, and pickled nopal, and the Apis Mellifera, with small-batch bourbon, Southern Arizona honey, and bitters.
Looking for something non-alcoholic? Four zero-proof cocktails will be available, too.
More to come down in BATA's basement
BAR BATA, a dedicated bar and lounge which Fenton is building in the restaurant’s basement, is expected to open in May 2022.
"This will be a casual off-shoot of the restaurant, and we will be pulling from our favorite drinking cultures," said Fenton. "High atop the list is Spain, where it’s typical for people to get off of work, relax, and enjoy a glass of vermouth and snacks like olives, high quality canned fish, and sliced-to-order jamon."
Fenton continues to run his restaurants as a family business, with his sister, Courtney Fenton, taking on the role of operations manager for all locations, and his brother, Zach Fenton, as CFO.
The initial hours of operation will be Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 5 – 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 – 10 p.m.