Green Cabbage at Bata (Photo credit: Natalie Moe)

EAT THIS: Multi-course ‘Chef’s Counter Tasting Menu’ at BATA

April 24, 2023
By Natalie Moe
By Natalie Moe

“Eat This” is your source for some of the tastiest local dishes in town.

By now, you’ve probably heard of BATA, a restaurant that’s unique in so many ways. But have you heard of the chef’s counter tasting menu?

When siblings Courtney, Tyler, and Zach Fenton opened BATA in March 2022, the restaurant astonished everyone to a global level. In addition to serving an ever-changing, vegetable-driven menu that utilized live-fire culinary techniques from the Japanese robata- style of grilling, BATA was the first to offer a chef’s counter tasting menu in Tucson.

While there are a few other Tucson restaurants offering tasting menus or pop-up tasting menus, BATA is in fact the only restaurant to offer a tasting menu at the counter. For the ultimate culinary experience, I invite you to explore the chef’s counter tasting menu with me.

BATA (Photo by Anna Smirnova)
Experiencing the Chef’s Counter

While I had previously dined at BATA and in its downstairs bar, Barbata, I had yet to experience the chef’s counter. But with each visit, I found myself more and more captivated by its cuisine and intrigued by its chef’s counter tasting menu.

Ready to embark on this culinary adventure, I figured I might as well enjoy this experience with a friend who not only loves Tucson’s culinary scene, but who has also experienced tasting menus of various cuisines from across the globe. So, I reached out to a fellow BATA fan and my friend, Megan, who has been eying the chef’s counter tasting menu, too.

Logistically, booking the reservation was simple. Megan emailed the reservations team ( about our preferred dates and allergies. Reservations only require a minimum of 24-hour notice, but we booked our visit a few weeks out since it was during Tucson’s busy season in December.

Upon being seated, the unknown menu began. While my friend and I conversed, we enjoyed observing the orchestration of the chefs in the open-kitchen concept. In the far back corner, we spotted the flames that danced on the oak wood on the hearth. On this same hearth, flames touch at least one element of a dish before it reaches a guest’s table.

Throughout the evening, chefs prepared our courses at the designated station and then brought them to our counter. What accompanied every course was a detailed description of the dish and where it was sourced. For this reason alone, I always enjoy tasting menus because it creates an interactive dialogue between the guest and the culinary team. I readily threw out questions with a desire to learn more, only to receive additional in-depth responses.

I would say what I found most unique about the experience was that two out of the seven courses were served family style. From the several tasting menus that I’ve experienced locally and globally, this is the first restaurant that has served family-style courses on a tasting menu. But, I didn’t mind. In fact, it only heightened the experience.

BATA (Photo by Anna Smirnova)

When I asked Chef Tyler about the two family-style courses, he said the team wanted to keep things fun and not overly formal by incorporating dishes that are eaten with your hands and shared with your dining partner. And perhaps that’s why the malawach with savory and sweet spreads, and the best cabbage of my life stood out to me the most. 

Malawach, a flatbread from the Middle East, is something I normally order from the regular menu. But this time, the malawach was presented with an assortment of spreads: summer squash, housemade labneh, local single-hive honey, and doña roasted chile sauce. Megan and I enjoyed tearing the flaky and buttered flatbread with the individual spreads, then creating our own combinations! It was an unexpected and delightful interactive component I wasn’t expecting to say the least.

The last savory course that was served before dessert is one of my all-time favorite dishes that I’ve ever been served: green cabbage. When I tell you that BATA specializes in vegetables, I do not exaggerate this fact. The cabbage was smoked for six hours and then perfectly charred on the outside.

It was then served with a whey soubise sauce and herbs, which all created the perfect tangy and savory dish. Included with this course were two more dynamic plates: potatoes steamed and grilled then topped with grated pork and tender beef aged for 45 days, and then cooked on the hearth to add some smokiness before being cooked hard and fast. Collectively, the course is one of my all-time favorites.

Tucson’s evolving culinary scene is constantly keeping me on my toes, and the chef’s counter at BATA is every bit extraordinary.

Chef’s Counter Tasting Menu (My December Visit)

First Course
  • Aged Beef + Pork Skewer – a sauce of herbs, pickled chile
Aged Beef + Pork Skewer at BATA (Photo by Natalie Moe)
Second Course
  • Dry-Aged Beef Tartare Tartlet + Smoked Cod Mousse Tartlet – tartlet shells are made using white Sonoran wheat
  • Dry-Aged Beef Tartare Tartlet – beef dressed with grilled onions, one-year-old purple barley miso, EVOO, and lemon juice, topped with a buttermilk aioli then garnished with fermented onion powder
  • Smoked Cod Mousse Tartlet – cod smoked over the fire and then dressed in buttermilk, cultured cream, and herbs. Garnished with pickled onion and dill
Tartlets at BATA (Photo by Natalie Moe)
Third Course

Malawach with the following spreads:

  • Summer squash purée – squash caramelized over fire then pressed to remove moisture, blended with garlic, EVOO, and seasoned with garum made from egg whites
  • Labneh – made in-house with grated cured egg yolk
  • Local single-hive alfalfa honey
  • Doña roasted chile sauce – chiles, onion, and garlic slowly cooked confit, then blended and emulsified with cooking oil
Malawach with spreads at BATA (Photo by Natalie Moe)
Fourth Course
  • Coal Seared San Diego Caught Albacore – Seared directly on the coals. Fermented rhubarb broth steeped with cilantro stems, chile, lemongrass, and makrut lime leaf, then garnished with onion, cilantro, and citrus zest.
Coal Seared San Diego Caught Albacore at BATA (Photo by Natalie Moe)
Fifth Course
  • Chile Butter-Poached SD Halibut – Butter emulsified with brine from fermented mild and hot chile. Local Arizona grain porridge, cooked in allium broth, seasoned with rye (Hayden Mills) amino mash. Herb salsa verde and smoked-butter sabayon.
Chile Butter-Poached SD Halibut at BATA (Photo by Natalie Moe)
Sixth Course (my favorite course)
  • Green Cabbage, Potato, Aged Beef – Green cabbage: smoked for six hours then charred on the outside and served with whey soubise sauce, and herbs. Potatoes: steamed and grilled, topped with grated pork that is salted then dried over the fire, then served with sweet chile sauce and chile crisp made of smoked dry chiles. Aged beef: aged for 45 days then cooked on the hearth to add smokiness, then cooked hard and fast. Served with Desert Pearl oyster mushrooms that are steamed, smoked, grilled, and brushed lightly with dry-aged beef fat.
Green Cabbage & potatoes at Bata (Photo by Natalie Moe)
Aged Beef at Bata (Photo by Natalie Moe)
Seventh Course
  • Sorbetto and Ice Cream – Local Meyer lemon sorbet, buttermilk foam, olive oil infused with thyme, smoked strawberry top powder. Embered ice cream with olive oil caramel.
Sorbetto and Ice Cream at BATA (Photo by Natalie Moe)
Things to Know:
  • Tasting Menu: $120 per person (plus tax and gratuity)
  • Wine Pairings: $75 per person
  • Courses: Courses vary from five to seven courses, depending on the number of dishes per course.
  • Allergy Accommodations: BATA will accommodate allergies. Make note of any allergies during your reservation and confirm allergies upon arrival.
  • Parking: Valet, street, and garage parking are available.
  • Make your chef’s counter reservation by emailing 

BATA is located at 35 E. Toole Ave. For more information, call (520) 367-4718 or visit

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Natalie is a born and raised Tucsonan. When not drinking matcha or enjoying a nice dinner, you can find her cycling around Tucson. For more food and travel content, follow her at @happilypinkblog on Instagram.

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