“We’re trying to put modern, fine-dining twists on classics,” he said.
The menu includes burgers, fish and chips, pork belly and filet mignon. Ingredients are locally grown when possible and made from scratch in house.
“All the stocks, sauces are made here,” Tunnacliffe said.
That goes for the drinks as well. Anthony DeSerio, a United States Bartenders’ Guild member, author and a Faith Middleton Food Schmooze regular, is the restaurant’s bar manager. He and Tunnacliffe are working on unique cocktails and presentation that includes using liquid nitrogen to cool glasses. They’ll take feedback from customers as to what cocktails the restaurant will offer.
Joseph Lucci, a chef who opened the Market Place restaurant in Danbury and a Culinary Institute of America graduate, is the restaurant’s head chef and part owner. Other owners include Simone DelBuono, a downtown Southington land owner, and Matthew Semeraro, a former Connecticut resident who lives in Massachusetts.
Semeraro said he is excited that, after some false starts, the restaurant is open. At a soft opening, held on Tuesday, 150 patrons showed up, he said.
The restaurant is located in the downtown storefront formerly occupied by Mainley Seafood, which closed in October 2012.
Preparation for an Irish pub at the location fell through and the build-out for Ideal Tavern has taken about a year.
A number of factors combined to delay the opening of the restaurant, according to Semeraro, but he also said owners took their time building the new space.
Most of the walls are covered in wood reclaimed from an old barn and the barn door is built into a partition wall. Behind the bar bottles are stacked on old boards.
“We’ve taken a lot of time and care to build out this place,” Semeraro said.
He expects the restaurant will help fill other vacant storefronts in the downtown. The town’s economic development coordinator Lou Perillo agreed, saying the opening of Ideal Tavern is likely to spur other activity.
The restaurant’s name references a nearby factory, Ideal Forging.
“We really tried to pay homage to the town with the name,” Tunnacliffe said.
Ideal Forging on Center Street was demolished to make way for condominiums and shops, a project that faced delays due to the economic downturn.
Tunnacliffe and Semeraro said Ideal Tavern offers something unique among downtown restaurants and could become a destination.
“This is unique. There isn’t anything else like this in Southington right now,” Semeraro said.