Update and clarification: Patrick Harris says that Antler & Fin plans to remain open during its transition to Boka Tavern: "We're wide open for business," he says. During the next two weeks, diners will be able to try Antler & Fin while it pulls in elements for its new concept, Boka Tavern. Diners are encouraged to call ahead to confirm that the restaurant is open for dinner as it undergoes the changes through July 17.
During the slow days of summer, restauranteurs’ minds drift and they begin to think about change. The latest, Antler & Fin and Boka Tako owner Patrick Harris, is changing his restaurant at 506 W. Broad St. during the next two weeks. When it opens again, it will be the latest member of the Boka family — Boka Tavern.
“This is going to be the biggest and the baddest Boka yet,” Harris says. “It’ll be a combo of Boka Tako Bar and Boka Grill [on South Side].”
Harris doesn’t have a bar at Boka Grill & Growlers, but the restaurant does have an expanded menu — something Boka Tavern will also have, plus craft cocktails, local beer and a late-night menu for its bar crowd similar to Boka Tako Bar in the Fan.
“We’ll have all of the signature stuff Boka is known for: the award-winning tacos — brisket, shrimp and grits, fish, all of those,” he says. “But then we’re bringing in a lot of things and the character of what we’ve been doing [at Antler & Fin]. … People will still be able to get an idea of what we were doing before.”
This means incorporating some of the more exotic ingredients into less chef-y dishes — things such as empanadas with wild boar, a braised lamb sandwich or venison cheesesteak. Specials at night will showcase less conventional dishes, or “the intrigue of nuance,” as Harris calls it.
The interior will remain the same, although chef Ian Merryman will be moving on. Harris will function as executive chef and is still deciding who might act as sous chef.
The GRTC bus stop directly in front of the restaurant will be relocated in four weeks, creating a much more prominent profile on the street for the restaurant. There’s also a parking lot around the corner on Henry Street.
“Honestly, this is like getting out of a bad relationship,” Harris says. “You say, ‘I’m sorry,’ but the other person always says, ‘You know what, it’s for the better.”
“I’m happy with this and I’m excited.”
Boka Tavern's hours: Sundays-Wednesdays 11 a.m.-midnight; Thursdays 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; and Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m.-3 a.m.