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Bar Crudo

Fresh and Cozy

Opened in Fall 2005, Bar Crudo is a modern raw bar with a little edge, contributing to the short list of San Francisco restaurants featuring crudo, the "Italian sushi" trend that hit large recently in New York. At the helm of Bar Crudo are twin brothers and owners, Mike and Tim Selvera. Chef Mike Selvera knows seafood; most recently he was head chef at Café Maritime and prior to that, Yabbies Coastal Kitchen. Tim runs the front of the house, guaranteeing a happy, comfortable visit.

The restaurant is tiny but cozy. Designer Kelly Tunstall created a casual yet hip space to enjoy a quick bite at the bar or sit down with a couple of friends upstairs. The downstairs is comprised of 2 bars that seat 10. In the loft-like upstairs, there are 20 closely quartered seats, with small French windows that look out onto Bush Street. I could imagine sitting up there just a week ago on one of those warm November nights with the windows open. But during a cold snap, if you sit near the windows it can get a little chilly, so I opted to wear my jacket on a recent visit. The sound system was just a little loud, but the music selection was so enjoyable my dinner companion and I didn't mind.

The compact menu is comprised of raw items, a few warm plates, and crudo. The wine list features many small family owned wineries and a nice selection of microbrews and Belgian ales that compliment the menu. Our waitress recommended a glass of Verdejo from Spain ($10) that went great with the seafood we ate. The other wine we had, the Highlander Sauvignon Blanc ($8), was just a little too spritzy for my taste.

We started with the oysters ($2-2.25/ each). The chilled oysters of the night were Miyagi, Quilcene, Beausoleil and Tatamagouche. The fresh catch was presented on a plate of crushed ice with the usual Champagne mignonette sauce, cocktail sauce and lemon. After we slurped down our oysters, we kept the mignonette to dip our French bread in.

We also shared the San Sebastian salad of tuna confit, asparagus, olives, egg, anchovy fillets, capers and manchego ($12). It reminded me of a Nicoise salad minus the greens. It was tasty, but the tuna confit lacked flavor; I wished it were seared instead. The starter menu also offered a sweet beet and shrimp salad with pistachios, feta and mache ($9), an artisan cheese plate ($11) and sherry duck liver mousse ($10).

The crudo plate has four different types of raw fish four for ($8) or eight pieces for ($15). The night we dined, it included scallops, Arctic char, Rhode Island fluke, and yellow fin tuna.

The tuna, a ruby red cube, was seasoned with soy, Sriracha, and scallions. The scallop was creamy as butter, served with orange, fennel, olive and mint. These two were my favorites! This is the type of raw fish I could eat every day. The day after dining there I found myself dreaming about it and craving it.

The Rhode Island fluke, on the other hand, lacked flavor. The seasonings -- smoked sea salt, fresh apple, jalapeno and tangerine oil -- tried to make up for this, but in the end the tangerine oil was too perfumey for me. I would have preferred it without.

I was starting to get a little worried we were going to leave hungry until our bowls of seafood chowder arrived. The chowder is rich, filled with clams, mussels, cod, squid, potatoes and applewood smoked bacon. It's the kind of chowder that serves as a nice respite to a cold San Francisco day. We loved every bite of it and cleaned our bowls.

At the end of our meal they presented us with some XOXO truffles. Our waitress told us they don't have them all the time but tonight they did. It was a really cute touch and a perfect ending to our meal.

Modern Raw Bar
Nob Hill