Baco Mercat - June 2013
Went for the first time last night. Wow. Loved it. There have been complaints on the board about service. We had a waitress named Jennifer who was one of the best waitresses I have ever had. She was terrific. Warm, friendly, very knowledgable, helped us pick a great wine and the best dishes, etc.
The food was really, really good. My friend and I split quite a few things, noted below. The combination of flavors on many of the dishes was incredibly satisfying and original. I can't wait to go back to try more:
BACO TERON - Perhaps my favorite. Wow, was this good. Rich and delicious, with ingredients you discover as you dive into it. It will be difficult not to get this every time I go.
CARAMELIZED CAULIFLOWER - If you like cauliflower, this is a winner. With pine nuts and some wonderful spices.
LAMB STEAK - A strip of lamb, prepared on the bone, with a lot of excellent vegetables, both slow cooked and crispy, underneath, as well as a lovely sauce.
OKRA - A cool twist on a dish I grew up with and love, Okra and Tomatoes. Flash fried then stewed a little, so you get a bit of both worlds. I loved this, my buddy not quite as much as did I.
SQUASH BLOSSOMS - Tempura style, with an excellent olive oil and chive 'dressing'... not the usual plain goat cheese inside but a rather unusual and tasty stuffing of cheeses and herbs.
DUCK - This was served room temp, with lots of spices, quinoa and root vegetables. The duck was in larger pieces... we both thought that if this was a diced dish, it might work better as when you had every element all together in one bite, it was excellent. But it was a mouthful to get it all in one bite.
Anyway, great service and food, so I will be back. Loved it.
FYI, in case anyone reads this thread later, the cauliflower is off the menu as a solo side but now plays a role in a patas bravas dish. The okra and squash were gone as well. Still, our lunch this week was intense. My friends had fried anchovies and the original baco. I had the lava fritter (I'm the veg of the group) and we split pickled veg - insane pickled grapes - the AMAZING roasted romanesco, and the double mushroom coca. Best lunch of the year.
re: Margaret Santa Monica
I've been diggin on Baco Mercat recently. The patas bravas dish has the aforementioned cauliflower, along with pine nuts and bread & butter pickle slices, covered in a semi-spicy Buffalo-style sauce. Yum. I've had this dish the last two times I've been there.
It goes perfectly with the pickled vegetable salad. Centano has brilliantly added grapes and dill to the pickled vegetables. The grapes add sweetness, and the dill adds a bitterness, both add tremendously to this dish.
The Caesar brussels sprouts is the third great salad, with sliced brussels sprouts with a Caesar-style dressing of parmesan and anchovy.
Frankly, I like the salads better than the sandwiches, although "the original" baco is my favorite. I also liked the "el cordero" coca (pizza). It's spicy, but the spice is harissa, which is a more smoky, deep spice that I enjoy.