Bar Crudo - first time report
I wanted to give a shout out for the great dinner I had last night at Bar Crudo.
There were a couple of snags but the good points far outweigh the bads, and I will certainly return.
First, the best thing, and the reason I'm posting:
Best Chilled half-lobster ever.
Lobster is one of those things. It's almost never as good as you hope it will be. Undercooked, overcooked, watery, not meaty enough, bland, there are so many things that go wrong. And if it's chilled, there are extra pitfalls of too cold, or sitting around too long.
But this was darn near perfect. Plus, they somehow had clarified butter to dip in that was cool in temperature..
I will return just to have this dish.
And their crudo sampler was also excellent. This was 4 different kinds of raw fish, each with its own treatment. Now, I'm not one for new-fangled rolls at sushi bars; and new-style sashimi (such as the new-style offerings at kabuto) often leave me underwhelmed (the exception being matsuhisa tiradito). But these were clearly very well thought out and balanced. Several flavorts that didn't clash per bite, and you could still taste the fish. Really nice.
Also really really nice was their cheese platter. 3 generous pieces with good accomapniment, especially the pistachio/honey mix.
Also, I liked the wine list. There were a couple of sicilian reds on there, which you don't often see. They tend to go really well with seafood, because the sicilians eat a lot of seafood. But, since it was my birthday, we went with my favorite white, which happened to be on the menu: Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru.
When she seated us, I feared our waitress might be a little cool and distracted,. But this turned out to be a wrong first impression. She was really quite helpful and flexible in helping us figure out the menu, letting us order things one at a time (my preference with a menu like this) and making good recommendations that seemed to fit our tastes. She even brought us a taste of something we didn't order that she thought we might want to try next time.
Okay, now my two nits:
First, the condiments for the oysters were not up to snuff. The cocktail sauce was barely ketchup with a touch of horseradish, and they were stingy with the lemons. I asked for horseradish (whcih I believe should always come with) and what they provided was dry grated flakes, a form I've never seen.
All this was ultimately okay, because the oysters and clams were so fresh and tasty that I could use just the lemon and horseradish. But they should really spend an afternoon and work out a good cocktail sauce recipe. I'm certain it's a matter of attention -- whoever figured out the flavors for the crudo sampler could definitely make a nice cocktail sauce.
Second: no bread. They did bring bread as part of the cheese plate, but when I'm getting raw oysters and clams, I like to get some bread or crackers with it.
But, as I said, overall I was really happy with the experience, and will return.
655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Thanks to this and other posts, we had a truly delicious visit to San Francisco. Much obliged.
Crudo is undoubtedly a fine spot. The chowder in particular is terrific - creamy, salty, a bit of spice and smoke - good stuff indeed. Likewise, the beer and wine offerings deserve a thumbs up - thoughtful, diverse, and pretty reasonable priced. That Moonlight Homegrown is a special beer indeed. In all, we had a great, long, albeit slightly early, dinner at an affordable price.
The only qualm I have about a purely glowing review is that I too found the oysters subpar. I had six of the Point Reyes and I found them lacking much liquor - tasting a bit long out of water. I am a shuck and slurp guy and typically use no condiments. Remembering the OP's comments, however, I tasted the sauces served with the oysters. I agree that the ketchup concoction is pretty weak. I thought the other "vinegar sauce" to be overpoweringly tart - certainly lacking the subtlety of a traditional mignonette.
At bottom, though, I wish to God I had the place in our neighborhood.
We're just going to be in the city for a couple of nights en route out of the country. Weds. is going to be our first time at Bar Crudo and I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks for pointing out some highlights. I'd like to say that your "nit" about the cocktail sauce probably is off target. I think the last thing good oysters and clams need is any additional flavoring. Perhaps a mignonette (?sp) but definitely no ketchup, horseradish, etc. I want to taste the sea not cover that taste. But thanks again.
I've only been to Bar Crudo for Happy Hour, and am always very happy. Their chowder is abfab: silky consistency, intense flavor, really fresh fish. The oysters are impeccable and the fish tacos were delish. The only thing better than the food were the prices. And the featured white wine was really good, w/a generous pour for 5 bucks.
655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117