With his new restaurant and bar at Hartford’s Goodwin Hotel, Tyler Anderson is hoping to capture the soul and energy of Spain.
“I fell in love with the country,” he says about his frequent travels overseas, experiencing the food, wine and culture. “I love France, and I love Mexico, and to me, Spain is sort of somewhere in the middle of the two. I just love the spirit and ultimately that’s what we wanted to bring to this.”
The chef-owner of Millwright’s in Simsbury and co-owner of The Cook and the Bear in West Hartford (and recent “Top Chef” contestant) has taken over the food and beverage operations at The Goodwin, opening the Spanish-themed Porrón & Piña in the hotel’s former Harlan Brasserie and Side Bar. Anderson and business partner A.J. Aurrichio, who have years of hotel restaurant experience between them, spent about three months designing and renovating the spaces that would become Restaurant Porrón and Bar Piña.
Restaurant Porrón (named for a traditional Spanish wine pitcher) features modern Spanish-style cuisine with traditional preparations and New England influence. The space is inviting, with light brick and earth tones and an attractive arch leading into the back dining room. Bright touches come from a hand-painted mural and tapestries by Jaime LaDucer of Chalk Art New England.
“I like warm restaurants,” Anderson says of the design choice. “I like restaurants that feel embryonic, almost; when you’re sitting in them, you don’t want to be anywhere else; you’re content where you are.”
The menu offers an array of pinxtos, or small snacks; tapas plates, grain and noodle dishes and grilled entrees.
The restaurant’s “ham bar” is a focal point, with five varieties (iberico de bellota and Mangalitsa from Spain, coppa from Italy and Benton’s smoked ham and American prosciutto) sliced at the bar and served by the 50-gram portion ($9 to $22.) A selection of cheeses (3 for $14, 4 for $19 and 5 for $23) include Spanish Valdeon and Mahon, along with local varieties from Cato Corner and Arethusa.
Tapas ($7 to $13) include smoked duck legs with sherry glaze and pomegranate seeds; pan con tomate; charred shishito peppers with chile-lime salt; tortilla espanola; and albondigas en champignon, or chorizo-stuffed mushrooms.
“Granos y fideos” feature a lobster fideos dish with shellfish, crispy noodles, sunchokes and black garlic aioli; risotto de orzo with cauliflower and almonds; and paella Valencia, with chorizo, chicken, clams and mussels. A section of grilled entrees “de la parilla y plancha” ($25 to $31) include plank-roasted salmon, Berkshire pork shoulder steak, NY strip and quail.
Anderson describes the grilled dishes as steakhouse-style, where guests can choose their side portion from a select list of tapas, like asparagus with sauce romesco or patatas bravas.
“We wanted a very Spanish dining experience, but we also realize that the American public is used to a certain dining experience,” he says. “You can come in, you can share tapas, you can have ham, you can have pinxtos, and if you want a steak with potatoes, you can have that, too.”
Tim Cabral of Ordinary in New Haven lends his expertise to the restaurant’s beverage program, which offers a Spanish-heavy wine list (with 60 selections available by the glass) along with sangrias, cava cocktails, unique gin and tonics and housemade vermouths.
Bar Piña (Spanish for “pineapple,” a symbol of hospitality) replaces the Goodwin’s Side Bar lounge space at the corner of Haynes and Asylum Streets. The bar presents a focus on classic cocktails with some Spanish inspiration ($10 to $13), organized in categories like “bright and refreshing,” “bold and spirit forward” and “low ABV.” Bar-centric snacks and tapas are designed to pair with the cocktails.
At the handsome bar space, with leather booths and banquettes and library-style bookshelves, “you’re kind of taking a step back into time,” Cabral says.
“We wanted both [Porrón & Piña] to just be places where people wanted to gather,” Anderson says. “We just want people in here all the time, sitting. Come to the Goodwin, come hang out, come be a part of what we’re doing here.”
Later in May, Bar Piña will become a coffee and doughnut bar by day, offering full coffee service, doughnuts, biscuits, scones, breakfast sandwiches and juices from 6:30 to 11 a.m. Pastry chef Kristin Eddy will oversee the doughnuts and other baked goods for the operation.
Anderson’s team is also running the hotel’s catering operation, with a full banquet menu capable of accommodating events from 10 to 800 guests.
“I am so excited that Tyler Anderson has brought his vision and culinary talents to the restaurant, lounge and meeting venues at The Goodwin Hotel,” said hotel co-owner Randy Salvatore in a statement. “This will not only serve to elevate the travel experience for our guests at The Goodwin, but will also become a destination for residents and employees from Hartford and all of the surrounding areas.”
Porrón & Piña in the Goodwin Hotel (1 Haynes St., Hartford) is open Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m. Bar Piña opens nightly at 4 p.m. 860-904-2101 and porronandpina.com.