Madison chef Tory Miller, the 2012 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Midwest, will soon open a fourth restaurant in the Wisconsin capital. Miller tells Eater he's planning an as-yet-unnamed tapas restaurant in downtown Madison, taking a space in the still-under-construction Ovation 309 building. "We're looking to create something that isn't here really," Miller says of the concept, which will feature an open kitchen and a proper tapas bar brimming with raw seafood, charcuterie, cheese, and cold jardinière. Miller envisions four bars within the space, each with a different purpose: an eating bar, tapas bar, drinking bar (highlighting traditional cocktails and aperitifs), and a "hidden" bar in the 100-seat dining room.
Miller's concept places the tapas bar inside the 55-seat bar/lounge space, allowing diners to point out what they want from options sitting on the counter. "I love a tapas bar that's in the bar — you go up with some toothpicks, you start whacking away at some olives, boquerones," Miller says. "I want it to be a really interactive, fun experience." Early plans call for a morning breakfast/pastry program and an extensive wine list featuring Mediterranean and Iberian wines. And expect Miller to tackle paella, albiet in a non-traditional way. "I'm not saying that there's going to be Korea paellas on there, but there might be some Asian-y paella," Miller says. "I'm so inspired by Spain and by the risks chefs take there: following traditions but not [at the same time]."
The restaurant will be Miller's fourth in Madison, joining the fine-dining L'Etoile, the gastropub-influence Graze, and the pan-Asian Sujeo, which just opened this September. "For me, I'm super-stocked to just be using different hams, literally getting back to natural wood-fire [cooking]," Miller says. "I really love, personally, to eat a bunch of little things and taste as much as I can when have a dinner experience. I'm really excited to bring that and have that place to do it here in Madison." Miller's tapas project is aiming for a summer 2015 opening; more as it becomes available.