Detroit’s Core City Neighborhood has gained yet another institution founded on creativity, community and differentiation. Opened just last month, BARDA seamlessly blends traditional, Patagonian open-flame cooking with refined, Euro-centric presentation – all in a space designed to inspire every sense.
In order to fully grasp the scope of what’s occurring at the intersection of Grand River and Warren, you first need the context of what’s occurring — what’s been occurring — nearly six thousand miles away in Ignacio Gerson and Chef Javier Bardauil’s native Argentina.
Most Americans are familiar with the wave of European immigration that swept the nation following the First World War. Few know, however, that a similar phenomenon took place in Argentina following the end of WWII just two decades later. According to Gerson, 86% of the country’s population is comprised of first or second-generation European immigrants. The result is a cultural melting pot permeating all aspects of life. In no place is this fusion more apparent than the nation’s contemporary palate.
“We’re bringing the expertise and techniques used in Patagonia,” explained Gerson. “In Argentina, everyone knows the Asado (Argentinian BBQ). It’s done with coal or wood, adding a grill on top. That’s what we do every weekend at home. And that’s exactly what we’re bringing here.”
Like the Asado, BARDA’s menu revolves around the fire. Nearly every dish is treated with the intense, smokey heat of their wood-burning grill in one way or another. Yet, it is the preparation of the ingredients following their departure from the hearth that defines the restaurant’s appeal.
Take the beets, for example – cooked whole over the open flame — nearly scorched — and then shaved razor-thin and furled into a floweresque bloom. When the ajoblanco sauce — their take on the traditional Spanish soup — is applied, you get one of the city’s most unique bites.
Or the Carne y Hueso – bone marrow (in the bone) placed alongside a beef tartar interlaced with capers and horseradish and served with bread toasted on — you guessed it — the open fire.
“What Chef Javier is doing on that dish is a combination you would never expect,” Gerson reveled.
It’s the epitome of elegance. And yet, it is the direct result of mankind’s most primitive cooking technique. Tradition waltzing with modernity.
In the context of Detroit’s development, there is no better venue to host the dance. Located in the heart of Core City, BARDA encompasses the spirit of a neighborhood honoring the past while paving the way for a different kind of future.
Formerly home to a mangle of blighted industrial property, Core City has transformed from Midtown’s unsightly, westerly cousin into the city’s green haven.
“The way the neighborhood has been developed – the idea of not urbanizing with skyscrapers, but by maintaining an ecological way of living… it’s amazing,” Gerson said. “We’re proud to be a part of what’s going on in the Core City.”
And Core City is thrilled to have them. According to Gerson, BARDA has received countless calls and letters welcoming them to the neighborhood, expressing gratitude for contributing creativity and inspiration to the community.
“It’s the spirit of the restaurant. We’re not just offering Argentinian food. It’s about our way of life. The way we honor our friends at home. We welcome them with vibrant music, rich Malbec and delicious food. That’s what we believe is the perfect way to give love. That’s exactly what BARDA is for us.”