The Owner Of A Michelin-Starred Restaurant Opened Bar Spero In Washington, DC, A Month After It Was Destroyed By Fire
Following the fire that destroyed Reverie, the chef opened Bar Spero in DC.
As often happens after these events, reservations at the Scandinavian- and Japanese-inspired restaurant, Reverie, in Georgetown, became scarce after chef Johnny Spero received a Michelin star in the spring. It was the perfect time as Spero was only a few weeks away from opening his second project, the highly anticipated Bar Spero in Washington, D.C.’s East End.
But Bar Spero was not like Reverie, a three-hour intellectual experience. Bar Spero, on the other hand, was a bar. Located in a multi-story glass-encased building, the bar would be lively, loud, and bold, inspired by the food of San Sebastian.
A fire broke out in Reverie in mid-August. It was not determined what caused the fire.
As well as losing his Michelin-starred restaurant, Spero also lost all of the personal belongings he kept there, including his knife collection, his recipe notebooks, his book collection, and his knife collection. Moreover, he had Bar Spero to think about as well as his wife, Alexis, who was preparing to give birth to their third child.
Chef Jose Andrés welcomed the Reverie staff into the kitchen at Minibar, where Spero served for many years as executive chef. As a result of understandable delays, Spero opened Bar Spero in Capitol Crossing on Sept. 14, after keeping his head down and chin up.
Even though the opening was a triumph considering the circumstances, Spero always had the vision of starting Bar Spero over. Though it is clearly a reflection of Spero's thoughtful and ambitious mind, it is not an à la carte Reverie; it is a restaurant that is "dynamically different," as Spero describes it, and has been in development since 2020.
As a young man, Spero worked at Mugaritz in Basque Country and also at Noma. The wood-fired, seafood-focused concept was inspired by this experience. He spent one night off a week eating steak and tomato salads and drinking Pacharán at high-energy "bars" until 3 am on his one night off.
It has a ceiling height of 25 feet and is built around a 26-seat bar, so it is sure to be packed every night. Bar Spero is experiential, stimulating, unexpected. A boisterous music is played, servers move quickly, banquettes are arranged closely, and the plates are intended to be shared.
As with Reverie, the menu highlights seafood and produce from Mid-Atlantic purveyors, farmers, and fishermen. As part of the raw bar, you will be able to enjoy seasonal oysters, sea urchins, scallops, mollusks, and lardo and cream cooked over a hearth. Other items, such as live spider crabs from Maine, will also be available on-site.
It will be served with lobster roe, scallop roe, roasted Spanish turbot, olive oil, garlic, chilies, kombu, herbs, and a whole grilled lobster. Shenandoah Valley pork and steak will also be available from time to time.
There is a playful optical illusion behind the Basque cheesecake dessert. He starts with Basque cheesecake, then turns it into ice cream, encases it in caramelized mousse, covers it in sugar, flames it, and slices it as a cake. As if you were ordering a piece of the real thing in Spain, you would receive the same visual experience if he served it on a baked dough that looked like burned parchment.
The Michelin star did not make Spero second-guess where he was going with this, even though the experience was very different from Reverie's. And Spero's goal for Reverie was the same. He felt confident he was doing something right and unique, and that he should trust his instincts.
Then he rebuilds Reverie, making it even better than it was before.