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Inside The Kitchen at Bahía in Traverse City


“Well, because if you throw a stone about 150 yards, you’re in the bay,” said the owner of Bahía, Tim Kiel, as he described the meaning of the restaurant’s name. “So, I mean, the bays of Traverse City obviously bring a lot of people up every single year and they’re beautiful.”

Also beautiful are the dishes coming out of the kitchen here at Bahía.

“Bahía is a tapas restaurant with a lot of Spanish, and not Mexican, Spanish, food, along with all the other fusion from that area,” said Tim. “Look at the Mediterranean, it’s bright, it’s tasteful, there’s color, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Tim says the sharable style brings conversation to the table.

“Everybody gets to taste something and everybody gets put their two cents in,” he said. “So when you have that type of dinner, it gives an opportunity for everybody to talk instead of one sitting in the corner just eating.”

Executive chef Benjamin Ashbaugh says the meals bring plenty of spice but that means flavor, not heat.

“So you’re going to get your some of the best roasted potatoes you’ve ever had with like the garlic and the shallot,” Ben said. “Then that cream sauce over top, it has a little bit of like an acidity to it from the sherry vinegar, but it’s still nice and rich and creamy and earthy with the mushrooms.”

Next up, ratatouille. Ben says it’s a favorite for many, including the general manager, Sierra Darga.

“It’s extremely colorful, very bright in flavor,” Sierra said. “It’s unexplainable flavor, really, that he has packed into, it’s not a normal ratatouille, it’s layered and the sauce is incredible.”

“So the sauce itself is really reminiscent of like a like a pasta sauce,” Ben said. “It’s you know, like I say, roasted red pepper and tomatoes and there’s basil.“

Then it’s topped with fried eggplant.

“So this is basically a deconstructed ratatouille,” Ben said, as he got ready to plate the mussels.

“You have a nice, like, warm broth that you can dip your bread and you can drink it right out of the bowl if you have no shame,” he laughed.

“I think it’s a more fun experience when you can share a bunch of plates with your friends or family and have some conversation, have some cocktails, some wine,” said Sierra. “It’s just a little bit more relaxed, I think, than a formal dining experience.”

You can find Bahía at 127 S. Union Street in Traverse City, or call them at 231-421-3669.

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