- Barry Kaufman Nov 5, 2000 09:51 PM
Have become a regular at B-44 in Beldon Ally. Sitting at the bar comes as close to Spain as you can get in S.F.---- Best tapas in town. Wonderful wine list. Try the squid in ink paella.
Just don't expect to have a conversation. It's by far the loudest restaurant I've ever been to. My companion and I were sitting at a table the size of a handkerchief and couldn't hear each other talk at anything close to a normal speaking voice. But the food was good, the service okay.
I tried B-44 about a year ago soon after it opened. We liked the Catalan-regional dishes: escalivada, white anchovies, grilled lamb rib chops, shellfish baked with romesco sauce. I'd have been back if there hadn't been a misunderstanding about the corkage charge which exceeded the food cost for the two of us. Wine list is well-chosen but way over-priced by SF standards. The Jaume Serra Cava which you can pick up at Cost-Plus wine dept. for $5 was about $25 on the list.
Just ate at B44 tonight. Overall I thought it was great and definitely on the loud side. It's fair value for money and totally worth going but not an amazing bargain.
Service was also very casual and friendly - we had to wait for our 4th guy for almost 45mins, but they took good care of our while we waited at our table. To pass the time, we ordered appetizers and sangeria, and they were happy to take this mini order first. No pressure to hurry etc at all. There was outside seating (that was all taken, we couldn't get one) but there were a few empty tables inside.
Really enjoyed the tapas: baby octopus that's nicely balanced between tender and chewy with sliced potatoes, grilled prawns with lime/garlic and garbanzo beans, and my favorite - peppers stuffed with soft pasty crab meat and dressed in a very slightly piquant and sweet pimento cream sauce. Cleaned the plate with this one. Compares quite well with the tapas at Zarzuela (currently my favorite tapas place in the city), but the octopus at Zarzuela was better.
We also shared 3 paella type dishes. The paella bianca with cod, monkfish and prawns was slightly on the bland side and would have benefitted from more saffron. The veggie paella (Hortelana) was excellent - and owed its deliciousness to the toasty fragrance and subtle richness from pinenuts as well as the sweetness from the peppers and peas. It's just barely behind my pick: the brawny tasting cacadora with rabbit, chicken, mushrooms and (yes!) pancetta that lent a great smoky flavor to the dish.
I was most intrigued by the paella negra made with squid ink and will definitely try that next time.