As it nears the final stages of construction, Barterhouse, a forthcoming Ybor City restaurant and lounge, is itching to debut. Well, partner Kenneth Emery is. Initially hoping for a summer arrival, construction setbacks have the concept shooting for a mid-October opening at 1811 N. 15th St., just across the street from The Attic at Rock Brothers Brewing.
Emery and his team are shooting to replicate a 1940s Ybor speakeasy. That means mobsters on the wall and lots of marble (which, at Barterhouse, is actually faux marble constructed of reclaimed doors).
"We want to pay attention to the mobster history of Ybor, but make it comfortable and elegant," Emery says.
There's booth and bar seating in the lounge and bar area, and lights will dim in the dining room starting at 10 p.m. when restaurant concept shuts down for the night. The darkened mood is supposed to accentuate the backlit art on the walls and create a welcoming mood lighting for those nightcap adventures.
Speaking of food, Barterhouse hosts an open-kitchen concept that lets guests watch their food get prepped and feel the energy while chefs call out orders headed to four-top tables in the dining room. Emery has also incorporated a chef's bar, where about four to six guests can walk in and get a seat just feet away from the action; he even hinted that diners in the front row seats might get "gifts" from the chefs throughout their meal. Oysters topped with tuna could land in front of those lucky enough to get a chef's bar seat, and the items might even get sent out into the dining room as an amuse bouche to welcome diners to the Barterhouse.
As far as the menu goes, Barterhouse is staying true to sustainability and highlighting the farmers who grow the ingredients being used in the kitchen. Emery wants to source as locally as possible, although he understands that can be a difficult task. Staying on the theme of natural ingredients, the cocktail program will swap sugars for honey and honey syrups. Wanting to honor Florida with its sips, Barterhourse guests can expect a lot of orange on the cocktail menu.
"We want the chefs and the mixologists to have their own stages, that's why the cocktail bar allows for guests to walk up and put in their order, and watch their drink be made before their eyes," Emery says. Another interesting concept that Barterhouse is incorporating is guests being ordering drinks according to their mood, or rather, what kind of mood they want to be in. For instance, "Jolt" is a play on a vodka Redbull, but Barterhouse makes its own version of the energy drink.
The rest of the drink menu is still under construction, but we're thirsty for more. Just weeks away now until we get a taste.
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