Two former Barcelona chefs open Alqueria Farmhouse Kitchen today in the University District.
Jacob Hough and Patrick Marker may have downsized their kitchen, but they now have the opportunity to stretch their legs.
At Alqueria, which opened today at 247 King Ave., the pair of longtime Barcelona Restaurant & Bar chefs will shift from tapas and paella into the realm of rustic, New American fare, with occasional nods to Spain—like the name, which means farmhouse.
“I think Spanish cooking is about good ingredients and doing them really well,” Hough says, “and we’re trying to do that in an American style.” You may see their Barcelona ties through flavor profiles that bring in smoked paprika or the restaurant’s curated cheese and charcuterie boards, but Marker says the pair is excited at the prospect of exploration.
“Working at Barcelona, we were kind of constrained to cooking that one style,” Marker says. “It’s been kind of liberating, because we get to play around with some more world flavors. Our idea is that we want to bring in as many local products as we can. We’ve always had an approach where we want to do accessible food ... but find the best ingredients we can and take care of them.”
With a kitchen that’s about a quarter the size of Barcelona’s, Alqueria is a big change for the first-time restaurant owners, who plan to alternate kitchen and front-of-the-house duties. “At Barcelona, we would run with seven or eight cooks at a time and two or three dishwashers,” Marker says. “Here, it will be probably a max of three people back there. At Barcelona, the paella station is a 16-burner range, and here we have six burners for the whole kitchen.”
The 2,500-square-foot restaurant and bar will seat 60 inside with another 16-20 on the patio when the weather turns. Visitors can expect an eclectic but accessible menu with items ranging from a pimento cheese-topped burger, to a crispy pork shank with Korean barbecue glaze, to a smoked duck cassoulet.
Alqueria is in a King Avenue space with an interesting lineage. It once housed Magdiale Wolmark and Cristin Austin’s much-lauded Dragonfly NEO-V and Till Dynamic Fare, followed by a short stint for The Angry Baker. Alqueria’s neighbors Yellow Brick Pizza and The Bottle Shop have solid followings, and soon Stauf’s Coffee Roasters will open a new coffee shop around the corner at 1334 Neil Ave. The area offers a lot of promise, if not ample parking.
“We just really loved the walking neighborhood. … We’re around the corner from the Short North, and we’re really close to the university. It’s a vibrant neighborhood, so it was really attractive to us. And we can’t afford the Short North rent,” Marker says, laughing.
Alqueria has taken over The Angry Baker’s dining room and its adjacent coffee shop, The Bitter Barista. Gone is the coffee shop’s Pepto pink exterior, replaced with a bold black coat of paint. Inside, the walls are off-white and wood, with a side dining room adorned with old timey farm tools. The vibe they are going for, bar manager Michael Marsan says, is “down home.”
“I’m bringing in some of my antiques from my family, and so to me this feels like a very personal investment,” Marsan says. “I want to make sure that people that come here feel that same personal vibe, that they’re being well cared for, and that we have curated and created a list of food and drink that just feels welcoming.”
Marsan’s bar will feature Ohio brews from an eight-tap system, plus craft cocktails and a mix of New and Old World wines. The side dining room will double as a space for wine tastings and special wine dinners in the future.
Alqueria is now open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday with dinner only on Saturday. Hough and Marker plan to add Sunday brunch in the future, but Alqueria will be closed on Sundays to start.