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bacar

Reincarnation

Bacar’s latest incarnation, under chef Robbie Lewis (formerly of Boulevard, 42 Degrees, Chez Panisse and, mostly recently, Jardinière) has been one of San Francisco's buzz food topics since mid-2007. We decided to revisit this SOMA foodie mainstay to see what's new.

Lewis took the helm in spring 2007, closed off the exhibition kitchen behind frosted glass, and created a seasonal Cal-Med menu to balance out the extensive wine selection, including about 65 wines available by the glass. Beyond the now-enclosed kitchen and a new (but similar) menu, Bacar has not changed drastically. The mixture of exposed brick, jazz from downstairs and high ceilings still creates that vaguely industrial, artsy wine cellar vibe; the three-story wall of wine dominates the west side of the restaurant while the bar is tucked into the front corner.

On a recent foray, we ordered the champagne and sparkling flight ($30), which included the amazing, creamy Sorelle Bronca Prosecco, Mont Marcal Brut Cava, J. Lassalle Brut, and Gosset Brut Excellence. The sweet Beau Soleil oysters from New Brunswick ($3 each) and the smaller, saltier Stella Bay oysters from British Columbia ($3 each) set off the bubbly in a briny but luscious fashion.

The next course was the richer cousin of the first, with roasted bone marrow ($13) and a warm chanterelle mushroom salad ($14). Our ever-vigilant -- and vegetarian -- server recommended the marrow as “rustic pate". The long, narrow, slightly-emaciated looking spoons that came with it added to the spirit of adventure and the dish itself was hearty, warming and rich with a sultana caper relish on the side.

We agreed that one of the best dishes of the evening was the warm chanterelle mushroom salad with poached egg and a smoked bacon vinaigrette. Initially, we had deep misgivings because the chicories included frisee (and thus we disclose a personal dislike for frisee), but the poached egg made the salad more substantial, and chanterelles in season are always a treat.

Halfway through dinner, however, Bacar’s reputation for being a bit of a scene kicked in; the table beside us was flooded with loud, demanding guys and giggling women engaged in a parody of modern mating rituals.

Ignoring the noise, we moved on to a plate of Maine diver scallops with celery root puree ($32), which was intensely flavorful. However, the mesquite-grilled prime ribeye with slow cooked broccoli ($38) was forgettable; still, we would have welcomed the slow-cooked broccoli even without the boring slab of cow.

One of the highlights of the menu was the staff flight ($25.50) with five wines ranging from prosecco to cabernet. Since we did not want to commit to just one or two bottles from the voluminous, indexed wine list, we happily followed the staff’s favorites, which carried us through to dessert.

The Milky Way ($9) with fudge cake, malt ice cream and bourbon caramel was less decadent than the ingredients suggest, but a sweet ending nonetheless. All in all, Bacar’s new menu is -- not surprisingly -- standard upscale California cuisine, but it successfully stands up to the wine list, which is no mean feat.


California Seasonal
SOMA
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