It doesn't feel quite right to refer to Food at Cortona as a pop-up. Maybe a starter restaurant? First of all, it serves dinner and drinks during prime restaurant time—Friday and Saturday nights—at Cortona Cafe at 25th and Union. Also, cofounders Zac Reynolds and Leon Baham have commited to spending at least the next year serving globally influenced food and a bevy of drinks here. A wooden sign for the restaurant now hangs outside the building, displaying both Reynolds's signature red glasses, and the relative permanence of the project.
But whatever you want to call Food at Cortona, the menu is a blend of Asia and eastern and western Europe. A salad of nori and wakame seaweed is dressed with nori mayo, sea urchin butter, and some spicy sesame seeds for crunch. There's a beef tongue entree and a rutabaga dumpling dish, and tea-smoked chicken that comes with cheese curds, a green pea mash, and buckwheat cracker. About half the plates are available in large or small formats.
Reynolds is the chef; his background includes cooking in Chicago at places like the upscale NoMi at the Park Hyatt, but most recently he's been cooking at Vios Cafe, and built up a little following through a series of supper club dinners held at his house.
He met Baham while sitting on a bar stool at Tavern Law, where Baham was tending at the time (now he's at Bar Sajor). Baham is making the most of Food's no-hard-spirits liquor license by serving sherry-based punches ("anything from blood orange and turmeric to blackberry, star anise, and coriander") alongside the beer and wine. And he serves it in a series of teapots, purchased on one long International District spree. The $17 tea service is for two to four people.
I can't yet attest to the food, but it's an adventurous menu in a part of town that could use one and I'm eager to see what happens with this. Service is Friday and Saturday nights, from 6 to 11:30.