Wine and Cuisine
This week I had a chance to sit down with Javier Candon, one of SER’s owners, to talk about the restaurant’s vision and menu. Javier shared with me how SER came to fruition and what the restaurant offers visitors. He also shared some of his future plans and SER’s goals. Below is the full transcript.
Interview with Javier Candon
Samuel Garza: Javier, thanks for having us here at your restaurant SER, tell us a little bit about SER and how this came about.
Javier Candon: My pleasure and thank you for having me and cheers/salud. SER came from an idea after working in many restaurants in the DC area and seeing what is going on in the market. We thought that there was some potential, a market for traditional Spanish food, but not in a tapas format.
Samuel Garza: Great, because that brings me to another question. Because D.C. is full of tapas restaurants, as you well know, I was a you know, a regular at La Tasca; what makes SER so unique away from the tapas menu from Spain.
Javier Candon: We are simply not a tapas restaurant. We are a restaurant that serves traditional Spanish food, and as a matter of fact, most of the traditional Spanish dishes cannot be served in the tapas format because they are simply too big to be in that type of format. For example, one of our more popular dishes is the Cochinillo; which is the roasted suckling pig and it is big, so we serve a quarter of the pig, but if you wanted to do it in a tapas concept it will need to be small. And the texture of the meat is completely different if it comes from the ribs or if it comes from the leg. So we serve a main dish that can serve two to three people. The size is a quarter of the pig. This includes ribs and the leg of the pig.
Samuel Garza: That’s fantastic, because, as you know, I’ve been to Spain many times and when I’d come back to DC or a lot of cities in the US, you get tapas, but tapas is usually something that you get, you know at the bar, with a nice little drink, when they welcome you in. That’s why I see SER so refreshing. Talk about your success, this has been the talk of the town for about a year. There have been a lot of rave reviews from many, you know, well established magazines inside DC. What makes SER so successful?
Javier Candon: I think it’s because we stand for what we are. SER means “to be.” But SER also stands for Simple. Easy. Real. That is what we want to be. We are not a fancy restaurant. We are a simple, easy-going, and real. You will eat here what your mother or your grandmother would cook for you at home.
Samuel Garza: I think this is unique and I think that’s an edge or a part of your success because you know, like I said, there are many tapas restaurants, but this sticks out. So talk to me about your chef, I mean he’s well-known. Talk a little bit about him and what he brings to SER.
Javier Candon: Well, Josu is not my chef, we actually own this restaurant together. Josu, came to this country almost 30 years ago to open one of the most well-known restaurants in the city and one of the best Spanish restaurants outside of Spain. Josu, is just the best traditional chef that I have ever known. Together, we want to be a simple, easy, and real restaurant. We are not reinventing the wheel. We are just taking a very good product and cook it with a lot of love and there is nobody like that, like Josu, to do that kind of work.
Samuel Garza: That is kind of hard to find, but you have him and that is fantastic. What makes SER so unique as far as the menu, you know, you talked about the bigger plates but you do have some smaller plates? Can we talk about those plates, because people need to realize that they can come and have those at Happy Hour?
Javier Candon: Absolutely, yeah we are a full service restaurant. We have small plates. Some people call them tapas and some people call them appetizers. At the end of the day, we have some of the most traditional items from Spain. So you can come and have a couple of appetizers and share a pitcher of sangria, or you can have a full meal.
Samuel Garza: Is Happy Hour seven days a week?
Javier Candon: Yes, seven days a week from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Most of our appetizer items on the main menu are in the happy hour menu.
Samuel Garza: That is fantastic. Now talk to me a little bit about Pajama Sunday. That sounds like a novel idea. Share a little bit about that.
Javier Candon: That is working very well. You know, on Sunday people wake up after having a big Saturday and they are tired. Maybe they don’t feel like dressing up. They just want to jump out of bed and come in their pajamas. They will get a free mimosa or a bloody Mary when they come in. However, the most important thing about the pajama menu is that it is made in a way that people don’t need to think too much about what to choose You have four appetizers, four main courses, and four desserts. They are brunch oriented items and they don’t need to go through the entire menu. They can may make it a quick decision.
Samuel Garza: That is something I will definitely need to try soon. That leads me to ask, what’s next for SER. You have been so successful at La Tasca and now you’ve been successful here. What will we see next from Javier Candon?
Javier Candon: You never know. You may get a surprise, but at the moment, it has only been one year with SER and there are a lot of things that we need to improve. There are a lot of areas that we need to focus on. At the moment, it is to continue to work on SER and make it even better. I’m obviously focusing on creating new ideas at SER that will bring us to the next stage.
Samuel Garza: Well, we are looking forward to ordering some food, and thank you for your time. Salud!
Javier Candon: Salud!
Stay tuned for SER Part Two: The Food
Coming on June 29, 2016.
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