Javier Canteras is on a roll. He won $150,000 on Restaurant Startup—in the process winning a trip to Spain and guidance from celebrity restaurateur, Joe Bastianich—and his Basque Supper Club pop-up is popular, serving little-known dishes from Northern Spain given modern twists. Now, he's secured a lease for his new restaurant, Urdaneta, on NE Alberta Street, in the former home of Natural Selection, the iconic fine dining vegetarian restaurant set to close June 11.
Canteras tells Eater Urdaneta could open as soon as mid-July. "Urdaneta will be a quaint tapas and wine bar—homey and rustic," says Canteras. "But I hate saying 'rustic' because there's a fine line between rustic and sloppy." Let's just say Urdaneta will be Basque Supper Club without the tweezers.
Canteras grew up in Spain—his father from Madrid, his mother from the Basque region—and some of the dishes, like Wild Board-Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, come straight from his mother's cooking. "In Spain, piquillo peppers are often stuffed with brandad, but my mother made them with ox tail or ground beef," he says.
Urdaneta is his mother's surname and a special homage to his grandfather, who used to take him growing up as a child growing up in Spain to the fishing docks to watch fishermen unload fresh fish. "My grandfather and I would eat this big meal of seafood, but I wasn't allowed to tell anyone," Canteras says: He and his grandfather would always return home to a second lunch—this one prepared by his grandma.
Along with a host of Spanish drinks, like trendy Basque hard ciders and G&Ts made with Spanish gins, Urdaneta will serve small plates like an heirloom tomato salad—the tomatoes peeled—drizzled with Ancient Roman anchovy oil, aka garum, aka Rome's ketchup. "It's really a style of fish sauce," says Canteras. "Back then, it was their salt. They put it on everything."
Other dishes likely to make the menu include Blood Sausage-Stuffed Squid, lamb shoulder sous vide on a cinnamon stick and glazed with kalimotxo (that famous Spanish cocktail blending Coco-Cola and wine), freshly carved jamón, and bold desserts, like passionfruit flan.
Urdaneta will likely open for dinner the second week in July, and Canteras hopes to add Basque brunch to the repertoire two or three months in.