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Aug 15, 2007 04:07 PM

*^*^thoughts on bacar^*^*

how would you describe bacar in three words?

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  1. Better and evolving.

    "bacar," as astute Chowhound readers know, opened in late 2000 financed by dot com money and poised to sell a lot of food and high priced wine to all of those wealthy, eternally partying, black-attired dot-coministas. The timing was a bit off.

    I liked the original bacar. They served food until 1:00 a.m., they had live jazz every night, a fantastic wine list, 100's of wines by the glass, and the staff was professional and attired in white tuxedo jackets. I spent many a night sitting at the bar eating cesar salad, and wok roasted mussels while sipping a glass of wine and listening to the live band. Unfortunately, the black-attired wealthy didn't show up in the expected numbers and things started going downhill. The tuxes went, the food preparation got sloppy, the wine list dumbed down, and the kitchen closing time kept creeping earlier (I went over there at 9:30 a few months ago and the kitchen was already closed that night).

    Then, earlier this year, there was a shake up. Debbie Zachareas (wine) and Arnold Eric Wong (food) left. The restaurant got a new chef, and closed for remodeling to make it quieter (the kitchen was enclosed and the jazz moved downstairs).

    So now that it's been open for two months, hows the new bacar? I've only been once, but my take is that it is better and still evolving. On my visit, I decided to "go for broke" and ordered the chefs tasting menu ($69). This is what I was served:

    Prosciutto Wrapped Pacific Prawns
    Tomato Gazpacho & Avocado Salad

    Wild Alaskan Salmon
    Brentwood Corn Puree, Melon & Lobster, Curry Emulsion

    Sonoma Quail
    Local Chanterelle Mushrooms, Peach Conserva, Toasted Walnuts & Foie Gras Crostini

    Mesquite Grilled Prime Ribeye
    Heirloom Tomato Salad, Potato Puree & Nicoise Olive-Truffle Jus

    Chef's Selection of Artisanal Cheese

    Honey-Yogurt Sorbet
    Cinnamon Waffle & Blackberry Compote

    I thought the food was quite good. I was especially happy with the salmon and quail courses, but overall it was well worth the money. There were some long pauses between the courses, and the service isn't up to the standard that it needs to be, but these folks are _trying_ and I'm betting they are going to get better. Some friends recently visited on August 1st, when the French wines were 1/2 price, and they also came away very favorably impressed with the food.

    Not everything is perfect though- it's just as loud as it used to be even with the enclosed kitchen and moving the band, but I'm willing to start visiting again and see how things progress.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Paul H

      Thanks for the report. Looks like they must have dropped me from the email list for the wine specials.

      How much food was the tasting menu?

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        It was quite a lot of food. I was stuffed, and only sampled the dessert.

      2. re: Paul H

        Place link...

        448 Brannan Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

      3. I've been to Bacar twice in the last 2 months. July 2nd and August 3rd.

        On July 2nd, we were there for dinner and we had the whole downstairs area. The setting is really nice, with about 6 tables of 8 people. We had our own bar and bathroom area. Passed appetizers looked great and I heard good things, but I didn't get a chance to have any since I was helping coordinate the event. Dinner was a small menu and I chose the steak. I ordered the steak medium rare and got a tough well done piece of meat. It was probably a mistake since our party was so big, but that steak ruined my dinner. Other people raved about their meal.

        On August 3rd, I went for lunch. (btw- they are only open for lunch on Fridays and its a prix fix menu.) I got a ceasar salad, duck confit and a brown butter cake for dessert. Everything was great. The duck confit was perfectly done and the brown butter cake was the perfect way to end the lunch.

        1. I went last Thursday night (8/16) for the 1st time since they revamped. A friend and I were looking for a nice dinner, where we could chat and hear ourselves. This would not have been possible in the bacar of yore, but I pushed to try it anyway. We decided to sit in the bar area, just to really put the space to the test. There was a private party downstairs, but with the curtain drawn you couldn't hear a thing; I have no idea whether they had music at that function or not.

          The menu seemed smaller than I remember, but they still have the only thing that really matters... those darn cheddar biscuits that you cannot eat just one of! My friend started with beer, and I ordered the interesting Italian flight. Except that the waitress brought me the Spanish flight by accident, so... needless to say, we ended up with two flights, and were grateful for 2 oz. pours. As usual, the flights were both very good, with two in each fitting into the "I'd drink this again, gladly" category.

          We ordered light- a side of roasted beets with chevre, and the wild salmon presented on a substantial bed of white corn, mushrooms, fava beans, and red peppers. Both were perfectly cooked. We were actually very satisfied when we finished. We were able to have conversation easily, and it also seemed much easier for the staff to get around as well. I think we got out the door for around $70, all inclusive.

          The chef's tasting menu sounds wonderful. May have to put that down for a revisit. I did notice that on a Thursday night at 9pm the bar was full, but the dining room was only about half seated.