Restaurateur Shawn Cirkiel (Olive & June, Parkside, Backspace) opens Bullfight tonight, adding fuel to the rejuvenated restaurant row on Airport Boulevard.
Under the direction of executive chef Ryan Shields, who previously served as sous chef at Olive & June, Bullfight serves a menu of modernized Spanish classics. The roster of dishes includes Spanish meats and cheeses (jamón Ibérico, manchego, and cabrales), snacks (marinated olives, bacon-wrapped dates with valdeón cheese), and entrees like seafood paella with clams, chorizo and shrimp; fried potatoes with bravas sauce; and grilled octopus with pickled carrot, fennel, and radish.
Cirkiel’s love affair with Spanish cuisine dates back to his time working at La Marquesa, which marked his first job out of culinary school, and extended to more recent years, as the chef has traveled extensively in the country soaking in inspiration.
“I’ve always been fascinated by it—whether watching bullfights or cooking small plates,” Cirkiel said. “And after the first trip, I was hooked. It felt like home.”
Cirkiel shared his passion for Spain with Shields, whom he took on research trips to visit farmers markets, jamón and sausage houses, cheesemakers and vineyards.
“After that, we had an outline of where we wanted to go,” Cirkiel said.
The drinks menu at the Michael Hsu-designed restaurant includes a selection of sangrias, cavas, sherries and brandies. The Spanish-centric wine list is curated by advanced sommelier Paul Ozbirn.
Located at 4807 Airport Blvd. across from I Love Video, Bullfight opens at 5 p.m. nightly and promises brunch in the near future. (bullfight-austin.com)