Disappointing and overrated brunch Baker & Banker [San Francisco]
I will preface this review by saying that I have eaten at this
restaurant now three times; once for dinner and once for brunch. I
enjoyed my previous experiences and decided to choose this restaurant
for a birthday brunch with my two sisters. Overall for a restaurant
charging the prices that they do in a city with such fierce
competition our meal and service were mediocre at best. First, I'll
start with the food. My older sister (the birthday girl) ordered her
eggs benedict with the eggs poached on the medium side. When they
arrived they were super runny and not at all how she wanted them. She
tried her eggs with the meyer lemon hollandaise and said the
hollandaise was lacking in flavor and tasted mostly of butter. I
ordered the avocado and citrus salad and my younger sister had the
house smoked trout and latke. Our food had arrived and by the time we
got the waitress' attention she had decided she'd rather not wait
another order of mediocre eggs benedict. When the manager came over to
see if he could get her something else, his explanation was that
that's how the chef likes to cook the eggs. While that may be the case
it should be noted on the menu that requests for medium poached eggs
will not be honored but that's laughable in that last time I had
brunch there my eggs were cooked medium as I had specified. Now on to
my $13 joke of a salad. I frequent the farmer's markets in the city
and throughout the bay and can throw down in the kitchen; serving me 6
crunchy chickpeas, a few nicely sliced orange segments, a quarter of
an avocado and half a dozen bibb lettuce leaves at that price point is
insulting, when I can make the same salad at a fraction of the price
with the same ingredients and at that price even add fresh crab! My
sister's latke and trout was fine but by that time we were just awe
struck at how expensive arrogance on a plate runs. I made the
reservation using Open Table and even noted in the reservation that it
was a birthday. Nothing was mentioned about the birthday and neither
the server nor manager did anything to acknowledge the celebratory
nature of the brunch. Overall, just a bad experience in a city
swimming with stellar choices there is no reason for me to return.
Wow. We don't make it up to the city much, but we were on Sunday and had brunch at Baker & Banker. I had the latke and trout and loved it. At our table, we also had the eggs in purgatory, which my wife didn't leave a drop of, and my son had the burger. The burger seemed fine, but I didn't taste it - he's 4 and powered the whole thing down. We also shared the banana fritters which were the star - crispy, light coating on the outside with molten banana inside, paired nicely with a vanilla creme.
I did notice it is a busy restaurant and unles you were a regular, the service was efficient, but not especially warm. But I'll also note that I saw Lori wiping, clearing and setting tables, so I respect and totally fine with that. Oh yeah, it was 73 degrees and sunny, so that certainly helped me enjoy the meal more as well...
Not related to Brunch, but I finally got to Baker and Banker.
Not especially impressed. Felt the food was sub-1-star level. Tastes were good but not overwhelmingly great. Had the house smoked trout latke, could have used more bite in the pancake, more bold in the horseradish, the smoke of the salmon was strong. The corn soup was interesting. It's usually made with more cream, and although stated as "very sweet" I considered it very savory for a corn soup - it's early season, after all. The highly sold scallops were not the sweetest I've had, although the charring/crust was nice.
Comparable, on the peninsula, to Flea Street - a place that doesn't get the kind of critical love that B&B does. I get the feeling people like the neighborhood aspect, the fact that the owners are still working it, rather than an unbiased look at the food.
It's good, don't get me wrong, but don't get oversold to think it's on the top end of SF dining. I'd rather hit Namu Gaiji again, or even AQ.
I'm not sure Baker & Banker gets that much critical love anymore. It became a hit around the same time as Frances, Nopa etc., and has stuck to its original flavor profile and general concepts. What felt somewhat fresh and new then, feels somewhat standard now (I think we've all gotten more adventurous in both ingredients and flavor profiles since then - and standards are higher for quality all around). But I don't find it standard bad - but rather standard good. It's also a bit quieter and more intimate than the others.
Imho, it's still a very good version of the California cuisine neighborhood restaurant. I would agree that Flea Street (and Village Pub) are just as good.