All the way toward the relatively remote eastern end of East Broadway, in a corner storefront that once held a small grocery (which had apparently been sitting empty for much of the last five years), an upscale restaurant has opened featuring the flavors and culinary traditions of Spain's Basque region. It's called Ernesto's, and the chef and co-owner is Ryan Bartlow, a Chicago native who spent several years cooking in San Sebastian and whose NYC resume includes Frenchette and Quality Eats. He named this, his first solo venture, after Ernest Hemingway, another Midwesterner who fell in love with Spain.

Ernesto's is a "small plates and everything is meant to be shared" sort of restaurant, and though the ambitious menu changes frequently, at our perhaps overindulgent dinner the other night prices mostly ranged from the high teens to over $30 for each dish. And it feels fancy inside, too, with custom-made chandeliers and dramatic sconces, a weighty, green-marble bar, antiques scattered throughout, seating for 40 at leather-padded chairs, and an original lithograph by Joan Miro on the back wall.

As soon as sit down you'll probably want to order the Paleta Iberico con Chips, which is basically just those two ingredients piled comically high on a plate and instantly turns your table into a party. The Croquetas de Gallina are five bucks each and not terribly large, but they are delicious, crackling on the outside with the pulled hen providing real presence within. Meanwhile, the Gildas con Atun, or canned tuna with pickled things, were over-oiled but certainly made for a delightful little drinking snack, if you are drinking.

This might be a good place to note that everything at Ernesto's is aggressively sauced, salted, and seasoned, adding pleasure to your meal to varying degrees. The Calamares en su Tinta, for example, is so drenched in squid ink that it's impossible to taste anything else. Even slabs of deep-fried bread disappeared into this black hole. The saucing works better in the Carillera de Buey, which are tender beef cheeks on a pillow of pureed potatoes, the whole thing swamped in a rich gravy.

The Piquillos Rellenos, here stuffed with lamb's neck, arrive in a medium-deep puddle of broth, but the funky meat still maintains its character here. Two spears of grilled salsify, which is like a white asparagus, also hold their own in the face of four other flavorings. The Cardos Estofados, a type of thistle that will remind you of celery, is bathed in an almond sauce. And Batter Fried Hake is the probably the simplest dish we ate, and we were grateful for it (though it's still plenty salty).

Desserts also change with frequency, but of course you should get the flan, which is billed as Tocino del Cielo and accompanied by both meringue and chantilly. The French-toast-like Torrijas is also very good, though note that both of these dishes also have plenty of salt on top. Canutillos are like luxe churro cones, and all of the helado is made in house. A full cocktail program comes courtesy of Frenchette's Sarah Morrissey, and Pierre Derrien oversees the natural wine list.

Bartlow is not done yet, either. Opening closer to spring is the Ernesto's daytime cafe, with coffee and pastries, and snacks, accessible through a separate entrance on Montgomery Street. At night, the space back here will become a wine bar overlooking the open kitchen, and pintxos will be served.

Ernesto's located at 259 East Broadway, at the corner of Montgomery Street, and is currently open Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to midnight. Closed Sunday, though expanded hours are in the works (646-692-8300; ernestosnyc.com)