Delancey and Essex. Anchovies and Olives and Bar Cotto (well, sorta). Walrus and the Carpenter and Barnacle. Blind Pig Bistro is joining the ranks of local restaurants that operate a bar next door. In the process, they’re giving Eastlake a destination for solid cocktails, cheap beer in more grownup environs than the Zoo, and a steal of a burger.
Last year, owners Charles Walpole and René Gutierrez took over the former Eastlake Teriyaki space next door to their restaurant. They brought in Ben Sherwood as a partner and set up a menu of sandwiches and salads under the rather unwieldy name of Blind Pig at Eastlake Teriyaki. The long term plan: turn the space into a bar so the bistro can offer cocktails and Eastlakers have a more casual place to frequent.
This week the space closed down once again for another transformation. It will reopen at some point in the next two months as Babirusa, an honest-to-god bar with cocktails, its own food menu, and a name inspired by the genus of fiercely tusked hog that serves as the mascot at Blind Pig Bistro.
Gutierrez describes the fare at Babirusa as a comforting bar food take on the inventive seasonal plates happening next door. He’s particularly amped about the burger made with charred eggplant aioli, salsa verde and grilled onions. “It’s basically the burger form of the steak dish next door.” And after hearing the neighborhood’s pleas for modest prices, they’re offering the burger for $8, and a $3 can of Old German for $3. This deal aside, Gutierrez hopes patrons can eat, drink, and walk away for about $25 a person.
He was wary of using the term “craft cocktail bar” for all its preciously mustachioed implications. But the house cocktail list should offer some good times (for a wine guy, Sherwood happens to be a deft bartender) and Gutierrez says it will reflect his affinity for mezcal. Diners at Blind Pig Bistro will be able to order off the Babirusa list, too.
Babirusa will be open seven days a week serving lunch from 12-3 then reopening again from 4 to midnight.