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Mar 13, 2009 12:03 PM

Bad time at bacar

So I hadn't been to bacar in a while--over a year. I had heard about the shake-ups and was curious about the new chef. Had never had a bad service experience there. I like(d) the wine program. We went to celebrate a friend's birthday.

I am not going to relate the entire two-page letter I sent them, but I will say this: I was mad enough and disgusted enough and disappointed enough to write a two-page letter. I am sure you will know what I mean when I say that when there is an initial problem in a dinner, it can go one of two ways: it can either serve as a wake-up call to a harried staff on a busy night and the dinner goes on with no hiccups thereafter; or, it can be the catalyst to a long line of mental errors that compound to create a torturous experience. In all I counted 14 separate incidents that merited mentioning in the letter.

The food was very good, with one notable exception: our double-cut porterhouse for two (a special) was overcooked. This is a tricky piece of meat to cook--the tenderloin is faster-cooking than the strip--but certainly not impossible. I would enjoin bacar's kitchen not to attempt it again. At $99 (highway robbery), it needs to be perfect. Our 3rd and 4th diners' meals were fine (scallops, chicken). Our first courses were all very good (rabbit, oysters, gnocchi with quail). The pacing of the kitchen was good.

The main problem was that the wine did not keep up with the kitchen. I don't know if this was always the case, but it appears that our waiter was either incapable of, or not allowed to, retrieve and pour our wine. The first bottle--ordered at the same time as our food--did not appear until after the first course was over and was brought by a manager. We attempted to order a second bottle of wine, but our waiter had disappeared and after 4 separate staff members were asked to send us a sommelier, no love. We received a very strange visit from the sommelier after our second course was over--he poured a glass of wine for each of us and then went away. I have never had so much trouble buying something in a commerce relationship. We were without wine for ~75% of our meal. Our waiter even admitted to staying away because he was upset by the situation. (!!!!!!!!) Other things happened that are really just incidental, and would have been forgiven if the rest of the dinner hadn't been such a monumental disaster. But what appears to have happened is that everyone on the floor, including management, just gave up. Free dessert is a throw-away, empty, dismissive gesture when offered early on and unaccompanied by any attempt to prevent further problems.

We were also seated at what is probably the worst seat in the house--upstairs above the front door--so our food got cold prematurely and my toes were numb by the time we had to go hike around SOMA looking for a cab. I have had truly good times at bad tables, though.

Anyway, it was a waste of time and money and a big disappointment. We ended up going to Tres Agaves for margaritas afterward to take the edge off our bad dinner experience.

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  1. It's ironic how a restaurant that specializes in wine can't be bothered to serve any.

    1. Sounds dreadful. I'm glad you took the step to write to the management, though, instead of just going on the Internet and slamming them. That's being a good customer!

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          If at any time during the main course our waiter or a manager or someone had paid attention to our waving hands... I am telling you--the waiter disappeared until dessert. I could either sit there pointedly not eating while no staff member paid attention or cared, or we could eat the NY strip side first (which was fine) and go on to the gray tenderloin side after. I was so irritated and tired from spending my meal looking for various staff members that I barely had an appetite left anyway. The manager-sommelier didn't blink an eye when he came finally and I asked, "What would you recommend with the cold greasy overcooked remains?" Without missing a beat: "Something with better acidity?" Apparently he thought it was funny.

        2. I don't think they or the old staff ever figured out how to cook pork. I had a kurobuta loin the first year they was over-cooked as well, actually very bad. Interesting, the time with the bad pork was also upstairs, I guess that's no-man's land or where they put larger groups. I've been back a few times but never ordered the pork again and I guess I never will. Oh well, sorry to hear about it. As for the wine service...I think after the first wine(r)-owner departed, it hasn't been the same.

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            448 Brannan Street, San Francisco, CA 94107