Barda, one of Detroit’s newest restaurants, officially opened its doors on June 10th, 2021 marking itself as Detroit’s first and only authentic Argentinian-inspired restaurant. Though it has only been open for a few days, the idea has been in the works since Chef Javier Bardauil and co-owner of Barda, Ignacio Gerson, first saw the space, which was inhabited by Magnet at the time. When Magnet closed its doors permanently during the pandemic, Chef Bardauil and Gerson decided it was time to bring their dream to life.
Now, after the success of their opening weekend, both Chef Bardauil and Gerson discuss the components of a good meal, their excitement to be a part of Detroit’s food scene, and the unique fire-like flare Barda brings to the city.
WHAT DEFINES A GOOD MEAL?
Chef Bardauil: For me, it’s experience. We are… trying to make memories in people’s brains, we are trying to build this experience through our business, through the restaurant. Yeah, I think that’s the core of our business to build a nice experience in every possible way.”
Gerson: “Yeah I think that… a definition that we find there is that a good meal is surrounded by the whole experience that you live when you go to the restaurant. Something that I always, we always have fun with, Javier [Chef Bardauil], is that he likes to choose the playlist for the restaurant. So that’s something that for him it’s very important because he is relating his cooking and his dishes with the music he wants in the space. So that’s, that’s part of it.
“And then everything that we do, you know that most of our nights at the restaurant we end off the night closing the service with a bonfire outside at the park with a gathering, with the guests that who are there by the end of the night and we gather all together in the bonfire with wine and they get to know each other. That’s something that we do in Argentina and, it’s very nice because it’s part of the after dinner and we spend hours talking and enjoying being together on that gathering.
“And that’s another part of our experience that we are bringing. And added on: the meal. I mean the dishes are beautiful, are you know, a very nice proposal but everything that surrounds that, we think it’s the overall experience that you live.”
HOW DO YOU SEE BARDA INFLUENCING DETROIT’S FOOD SCENE?
Chef Bardauil: “We are bringing diversity that’s for sure, we are the first Argentinian restaurant [in Detroit], and I think we are very unique in that path.”
Gerson: “I found out there was no Argentinian restaurant in town, that you have the Italian restaurants, the Mexican restaurants and, that is creating diversity as well in the city, that’s something that we like, that’s the main thing that we saw. We saw the possibility to make, you know, the city grow on diversity, offering our proposal and bringing our proposal to the town.”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DISH ON THE MENU?
Chef Bardauil: “We think that the menu itself is telling a story, we need all the dishes in order to tell this story. Every dish is saying something different….”
Gerson: “It has its whole story.”
Chef Bardauil: “Yeah, yeah absolutely, and it’s always evolving all the time, I can’t help it, I’m changing dishes all the time.
Ignacio is mad at me all the time because of that…. I think it’s very difficult to choose a favorite, I think of course, you know, when you think about the grill and the flames there is something there that is, that calls, you know, the meat, but that’s not it because all the dishes there are so important and, when you see the reviews from this weekend and people name all the plates, and all the plates are their favorites so that’s, it’s very comforting to us.”
HOW WILL BARDA DEFINE ITSELF APART FROM MAGNET?
Gerson: “What we see is that, ah, the restaurant itself, the building that Magnet used and we are using now, it has a very special tool which is the kitchen. The kitchen is the tool that Magnet used with its proposal which was amazing, I mean we…”
Chef Bardauil: “We loved the place.”
Gerson: “Yeah, we had dinner there for the very first birthday of Javier [Chef Bardauil] here in town and we saw the tool, that kitchen, and that was a kitchen we loved. Destiny put us there a year later, and basically what we are proposing now is a whole different menu. We are bringing our experience, our knowledge of our food from South America using Patagonian cooking techniques, natural wood fire cooking, but in this case, it’s our food, the food we really eat every day in Argentina.
“So the Proposal is just totally different from the menu point of view using the same kitchen, of course.”
WHAT IS ENTICING TO YOU ABOUT DETROIT (NON FOOD RELATED)?
Chef Bardauil: “When we came here the first time we fell in love with the warm[th] of the people, the community was so welcoming of us. That was something I really liked about that time, I really wanted to be part of Detroit.”
Gerson: “We found it very, a very close way of being in light of living between us and Detroiters, and the community made us feel at home. And we couldn’t believe, you know, the warmth of the community.”
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE MOST NOW THAT BARDA IS OPEN?
Gerson: “We think that now that we are open, we want to make the restaurant operate like a Swiss clock, that’s what we want, we want… for the team to enjoy working there and not to be stressed every night. We all need to have fun there and that’s what we are looking forward to having, a very nice environment, because at the end of the day, again, it’s part of the experience. Because the team transmits the energy to our guests, and our guests feel that the people there are having fun and they want to be a part of it.
“And this whole situation with the pandemic and people leaving the industry may be part of it and, it, it needs to change, it needs to change for, you know, for the people in the industry to have a very healthy environment.”
As always, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates on all things Detroit and more.