Bar Ama not what I hoped it would be
It saddens me to say this, as Baco Mercat is one of my favorite restaurants of the past few years, but I was really let down by my first meal at Bar Ama. In fairness, the menu is pretty huge and there is a lot we did not get to try, but of the 5 dishes we ordered none stood out the way damn near everything I've ever ordered at Mercat has.
Puffy tacos tasted like something you would get at Malo. The waitress recommended the fajitas which were, well, pretty much fajitas. Not sure what I was expecting, but there was nothing remarkable about them. You do get a huge portion of what is obviously high quality beef, but it is overwhelmed by the overly citrusy marinade, and just sort of meh. The tortillas that came with it were delicious however. The cauliflower with cilantro pesto and the tuna cruda were the standout dishes, and reminded me the most of items you might find around the corner. There was a kale and zucchini dish which just came out as a salty mush which I barely touched.
As I said, there is a lot we did not get to try and I do plan to go back when the hype dies down. Maybe i was spoiled by having been completely blown away by Superba's reimagined Italian menu earlier this week, I was really hopeful that Centeno would be able to pull off a similar feat with Tex Mex. We were seated next to none other then the J.Gold, I'm hoping we get to read his take in the near future.
We have eaten at Bar Ama twice now, both times feeling REALLY hopeful that the place would become a favorite. We've had the puffy taco, the queso, the jicama salad, pork shoulder molcajete, roast chicken and the chicharron. The only standouts were the drinks, particularly the old fashioned. I think this place has too little to stand on conceptually. I'm not a fan of porkbelly served soft ,and that is what their chicharron turned out to be: two watermelon-rind sized portions of belly, slightly fried, fat about 3/4 inch thick, no crunch to speak of. I'd even asked the server beforehand if they were crunchy chicharron or meaty/chewy, she couldn't answer. The chicken was okay but would have been better with the sauce on the side.
We left after the second time feeling like chumps. I absolutely agree that this was Malo-quality at Baco prices.