X Group Restaurant Executive Chef Joel Mertens offered a few thoughts by email on the new Choripan by Asado, the cafe that will open around Jan. 11 inside Tacoma’s Museum of Glass. You can find details of the new cafe here. Mertens described a mix-and-match menu showcasing the flavors of street food in Argentina.
Mertens said that X Group Catering also will become the exclusive caterers at the Museum of Glass, in addition to operating the museum cafe. The new themed catering menus will offer diners a South American, Asian, or Northwest experience, as well as a plated “Asado experience,” said Mertens via email.
I asked Mertens a handful of questions about the new cafe. His responses:
What’s the menu going to look like?
Mertens: So Choripan is really a close match to a concept that John Xitco (co-owner of X Group restaurants) had come up with a couple years ago. Finding a way to take something that has parts of Asado, but also works with the venue we have (available).
Our main “choripan style” menu items will be pretty cool. First you choose your protein (chorizo, chicken, steak, tofu, braised pork). Then you choose your style. Either as a baguette (choripan style), as a salad, or as a quinoa bowl (like the ones on our Asado lunch menu). We will also have a spot on our menu called “The Standards” that will have more traditional sandwiches, mac and cheese, soup, and salad.
Tell readers about your 3-4 favorite items.
Mertens: On the “choripan style” side, I really like the tofu baguette. It has braised tofu, roasted yellow tomatoes, red onions, hummus, cilantro and chimichurri aioli.
Also on the “choripan style” side, the braised pork. Braised pork, salsa molido, chimichurri, cilantro, red onion, and chimichurri aioli.
On the standard, I am always a fan of mac and cheese. We’ll be making a really creamy, cheesy sauce and serving it with penne pasta.
Can you tell readers a little more about Argentine street food?
Mertens: When John (Xitco) and I were thinking of a concept to fit in the museum that would use flavors from Asado, but works with the space and the venue, we did some internet research and found that “choripan” carts in Argentina are almost like hot dog carts here. Street food that is normally just chorizo, chimichurri and bread (“chori” from the chorizo, “pan” from the bread). We’ve taken that, and expanded those a bit to include other items, but with Argentine flavors. Our chorizo on baguette will be the closest to traditional choripan – Uli’s chorizo, rajas, harissa chimichurri and chimichurri aioli.
Will there be one menu all day, or will you have different menus?
Mertens: The menu will be the same all day.
Will hours be the same as museum operating hours?
Mertens: Currently we are planning on being open only during the museum’s hours. If we find that the need is there, we will look at the possibility of being open more.
What kind of price range are diners looking at?
Mertens: Looking over the current prices at the museum, the standards will be very close in price while the “choripan style” menu will be slightly more.
Sides and Apps – $3 to $5.50
Standards – $6 to $10
Choripan Style – $9 to $12