Foodie Confidential

Foodie Confidential: Black Tap founder Chris Barish got too old for clubs

Chris Barish, founder of Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, went from running top nightspots to restaurants after his daughter was born

Who: Mr Chris Barish, 45, founder of New York burger chain Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, which opened an outlet in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands last month.

Aside from three outlets in New York, it is also located in Las Vegas, Geneva and Dubai.

Mr Barish, a film student from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, started out as a party promoter in the 1990s and went on to run some of the trendiest and most well-known nightclubs in the United States, such as Light in New York and Las Vegas and the now-defunct Moomba in New York.

His wife Julie Mulligan, 35, an architect, is responsible for designing all Black Tap restaurants. They have a 10-year-old daughter.

Why did you decide to get out of the nightlife scene and into the restaurant business?

Both are very similar - both are about having a great experience, taking care of customers and hospitality.

A nightclub has some different challenges, such as later hours. I got a little old, too, for nightclubs.

Milkshakes at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, which opened an outlet in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands last month. Mr Chris Barish says going into restaurants was a natural evolution as the nightclub and restaurant businesses are very similar.
Milkshakes at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, which opened an outlet in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands last month. PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS

  • WHAT WOULD YOUR LAST MEAL BE?

  • My appetiser would be Black Tap's All-American Burger, made with US beef, special sauce and sandwiched in a potato bun. It is a classic, simple and delicious burger. My main course will be cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper) from Felice a Testaccio in Rome. And I would have a Black Tap Cotton Candy Strawberry Shake for dessert.

There was another opportunity to open a nightclub, but I remember how my daughter had just been born and I did not want to be out till 4am and sleep in till 1pm.

Going into restaurants was a natural evolution.

What then prompted you to open a restaurant in New York?

I was a restaurant partner and had helped to develop Gordon Ramsay Steak (opened in 2012) and Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill (opened in 2013) in Las Vegas, but I lived in New York. I woke up one day and realised I did not own anything in New York.

I knew I wanted a place for my friends to be able to go to, something that is my own. I also knew I did not want to go back into the nightlife scene.

I liked hosting people, so I knew I had to do something in New York, and an opportunity presented itself.

I was introduced to chef Joe Isidori through a mutual friend four years ago and we opened Black Tap in SoHo in 2015.

What are your thoughts on Instagram-worthy food?

These days, people are constantly on their cellphones.

I do it too. When I go to a restaurant and see something that looks great, I want to remember it, so I take a photo.

I don't think you can make food just for Instagram - it has to taste great too. For us, we never tried to make something just for Instagram - it happened naturally.

We played around with a cotton candy milkshake and soon people started taking photos of it.

The most important thing for us is that when those who follow us on Instagram come to our restaurants, they get the same experience and food that has the same look as what is seen on Instagram.

You live in New York. What are some of your favourite food haunts in the city?

I go to ABC Kitchen by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I also like his other restaurant, ABC Cocina, as well as ABCV, his vegetarian restaurant.

I have been going to Raoul's Restaurant in Prince Street, which opened in 1975, for years. It is a simple bistro where 80 per cent of the diners order the steak frites with an au poivre sauce, a French peppercorn sauce. If I am trying to be good, I also have the wilted spinach with my steak frites.

There are so many new restaurants, but it is always fun to go back to restaurants you are familiar with, where the waitstaff remember you. You need a good balance of old and new restaurants.

What are some of your favourite cocktails?

I enjoy a nice martini with a whisper of vermouth, sometimes with olives or just a twist of citrus.

When I order an Old Fashioned, I always tell the bartenders to go light on the sugar. I usually leave it to them to decide what type of whisky to use.

I have come to enjoy Aperol Spritz, a drink I was introduced to recently at Adrift at Marina Bay Sands. It is light and has a lower alcohol content - great now that I am older.

What are some of your favourite bars?

There are two great bars in Las Vegas - Rosina at The Palazzo and The Dorsey at The Venetian. Rosina is small and intimate, which is rare in Las Vegas, and there, I feel comfortable enough to let the bartender pick a drink for me.

The other two bars I love are Atlas and Employees Only in Singapore. It was only because I liked Employees Only in Singapore that I decided to check out Employees Only in New York. (The Singapore bar is an offshoot of the award-winning bar of the same name in New York.)

What is always in your fridge? A crazy amount of flavoured sparkling water. I am trying to stop drinking diet soft drink, but I love the bubbles.

I have cherry sparkling water and watermelon sparkling water and my current favourite is a cucumber sparkling water. I also have sparkling kombucha.

If there was one person you could host at Black Tap, who would it be?

I need to have Denzel Washington come to my restaurant because I may be his biggest fan. I have watched him perform on Broadway twice, most recently in The Iceman Cometh. I also have watched every film of his.

• Follow Rebecca Lynne Tan on Twitter @STrebeccatan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 07, 2018, with the headline 'Out of clubs and into eateries'. Print Edition | Subscribe