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On Friday, January 13, Uptown Oakland will add Colombian restaurant, Parche to its growing list of food businesses. Developed by Owner/Operator Paul Iglesias (previously of Canela Bistro & Wine Bar in San Francisco) and part Owner/Operator, Kendrick Wu (owner of Makan and Thirsty Crow in Washington DC), As Paul’s first personal restaurant venture, Parche will shed a light on South American food and beverage with a localized touch. The Parche team will be highlighting Colombian ingredients and cooking techniques. Fruits and herbs such as lulo, feijoa, maracuya, uchuva, and yerbas de azotea will have a place on the menu alongside contemporary presentations of arepas, sofritos, and amasijos. Roughly translating to “a familial-style gathering place for a group of people to come together,” Parche is fleshed with warmth and color. The restaurant is a celebration of Colombian artisanship, both reflected in a culinary sense, on the menu, and in the surrounding decor.
Paul Iglesias grew up in an environment that revolved around food with Colombian pride and heritage running through his veins. His mother was one of fourteen children, all who had a role in the kitchen. Cooking was a group effort, yet no one in the family was professionally trained. Food was a communication of love, and it was mandatory for everyone to sit down at the table to enjoy it together. Paul’s childhood involved a rotating list of guests, all lured in by conversation and a shared meal. His vision for Parche is to mimic this feeling, through a service, food, and beverage driven marriage of the overarching culinary experience. Under Paul’s direction, Parche will offer a menu primarily composed of shared plates. The restaurant aims to revive the underappreciated appeal of a home cooked meal around a lively dinner table.
Following a research trip to Colombia, Paul, who is Colombian himself, collected inspiration from the land, tradition, and culture of the country, but also a talent named Saul Valdes (pronounced Sow-ul). Saul has always been committed to reinventing concepts related to the stylization of Colombian and universal flavors. He was recently a manager and promoter of the Colombian Ethnic Cuisine project Sabores y Colores de Colombia por el Mundo, a project that seeks to rescue dishes from all corners of Colombia with updated techniques. Saul has represented Colombia in more than 1800 cities through governmental and diplomatic events worldwide. However, with all of his achievements aside, it was Saul’s zeal for cooking that really caught Paul’s eye. Tapping into his knowledge, the Parche team will work on a contracting basis with Saul to pull out all the stops to most accurately represent the character of Colombian cuisine.
“Everything will have a purpose at Parche. If part of an ingredient is on the cocktail menu, the other part will be used in the kitchen. Colombians have been cooking holistically for years, and we’re not going to stop that practice here. All of our F&B decisions will consider how waste comes into play. For example, a lime. We’ll dehydrate the skin for a garnish while using its juice in our ceviche” said Paul Iglesias in a statement.
With Paul overseeing the culinary program, guests at Parche will be encouraged to try a bit of everything. With countless small plates like Anilos de Patacón (salmon tartar, citrus aioli, crispy capers, watermelon radish, baby greens) and Ceviche de Chicharron (crispy pork belly, lemon curd, kewpie mayo-mandarin, charred mandarin, Sriracha, lime juice, pickled red onions). Large groups, pairs, or single diners can gather a greater understanding of the restaurant’s strengths and identity without having to commit to one dish. A few other menu highlights include Arepa de Anis (corn cake, anise, barranquilla-style ají made with roasted veggies and tahini), Posta Negra (slow & low cooked short rib in a cartagena-style sauce made of cola & panela, yuca & coconut puree, heart of palm salad), and Dessert Burrata (raspberry-guava-buddha’s hand coulis, arequipe, sweet & salty crumble, gooseberries). Aside from the food, in the near future, Parche will offer Latin Nights, Brunch, and Community Nights to further engage with the local community and restaurant industry through music, dancing, and additional entertainment.
Parche’s Beverage Director will be Eric Syed, a previous co-worker of Paul’s at the Brixton in Washington D.C for 10 years. Since then, Eric has continued to learn the tricks of the trade, eventually transitioning into a more detail focused style of service at Starr Restaurant Group. After opening the St. Anselm with Starr, Eric quickly ended up running their cocktail program but was lured to the Bay by Paul and his vision for Parche.
The bar program will harness the restaurant’s vibrancy in extension of the food. There will be 10 by-the-glass wines (two on tap) and 30 by-the-bottle options. The wine list follows The Discovery, starting in Spain and Portugal and moving to South America with a heavy emphasis on small production, organic, and biodynamic selections. The beer will be sourced from Aguila, Colombia and a few Bay Area brewers. Parche’s Colombian-inspired cocktail list includes contemporary takes on classics exposing guests to new and familiar experiences such as the Trans-Atlantic tonica section featuring Spanish & Colombian spirits and a café list that includes boozy coffee. Aguardiente, as in alcohol between 29-60% ABV and most popular in Spanish Speaking countries, will make multiple appearances. Low and non-alcoholic beverages will be available to guests as well utilizing some of Parche’s procured Colombian fruits to create housemade sodas. Parche will open with a happy hour based in the bar and lounge (exact timing to be determined).
Each piece of decor at Parche was designed to share a greater message – one of Colombian history through an Oakland lens. As guests open the front door to step inside, balays made by hand from Alta Estudio spin in the slight breeze above the dining room tables. Each took over 90 hours to make and were specifically created for Parche. In the lounge and applied to the dining room and bar seating are furniture pieces constructed by Colombian design company, Tucurinca. The lounge renditions feature rainbow coloring as a nod to Paul’s previous work with Canela in the Castro. On the back wall are hand-produced posters by the letterpress company, la linterna, eye-catching Colombian prints that depict historical and current messaging.
The list goes on with the geometrical pendants (Arte y Tejidos Kasaia, Colombia) over the bar, terrariums and plants (Jarden Garden, Bay Area), and murals (Dana Johnson, Bay Area) scattered throughout the space. The collective design feeds into Parche’s intentional atmosphere with meaningful origins. For example, the yellow butterflies that crawl up the restaurant’s main pillar come from the author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Aracataca, Colombia). He uses yellow butterflies as a literary representation of magical realism stemming from his Nobel Prize winning book, 100 Years of Solitude. The murals done by Johnson, on the other hand, illustrate jaguars and condors, spirit animals to the Colombian community representing the “mother of all” / predation and a national shield/ protection respectively.
Parche is broken down into five different sections to allow for smaller bubbles to exist within a larger, unifying space. The bar sits across from the front door with 14 seats, the lounge sits adjacent to the bar and can sit 12-16, and the dining room is the largest space capable of seating 85 (105 standing). The restaurant also has a private dining section which seats 16 (24 standing) positioned towards the back. This area is protected by a perforated barrier that presents a sense of privacy and inclusion simultaneously. The last area, and one that has a great amount of potential, is the kitchen. Separated into two quadrants, the kitchen has enough space to handle catering and in-person dining independently. The Parche team hopes to take advantage of this huge convenience by integrating pop-ups and joint cooking into their future programming.