Bar Crudo (SF) – Learn the Art of Addition by Subtraction
Went here last night – moved out of the neighborhood but took the 25 minute walk to Union Square. I will have to temper my enthusiasm for the place a bit – it is definitely a 2nd-tier Uni/Nobu-type place. The menu doesn’t seem to change too much (most of the dishes were the same) and the service can be lacking (but it’s fine for the most part.)
The chef is talented but I think he needs to take a few lessons in reduction. Some of the dishes are just too busy and I really think he could take a page from Manresa’s fish book.
I’m still a bit perplexed why the crudo menu isn’t revolving but i guess he has some good farms for the stuff he serves; the cooked menu looks different this time around. They have also introduced specials.
1. Olympia oyster (washington)
2. Kumomoto oyster (humboldt bay)
Very good, sweet & plump
3. Hawaiian Ono w/ habenero peppers & mushrooms
Fairly innocuous, I didn’t taste much of the sweetness of some of the better Ono i’ve had. Of course, that’s all a mute point b/c the peppers *dominated* this dish – there was no chance for any fish flavor coming through.
4. Spicy Yellowfin Tuna Cubes w/ Ginger, Soy, Sriracha, & Green Onions
Not as good as last time; it was towards the end of the night so maybe i got the crappier tuna. However, the tuna was better than average.
5. Rhode Island Black Bass w/ Quail Egg, Habanero Tobiko, & Orange Reduction
Very good – the bass was a tad dry by itself but the quail egg was an excellent delivery mechanism – wonderful texture. The habanero tobiko was awesome – little bites of kick.
6. Artic Char Cubes w/ Creamy Horseradish, Tobiko, & Dill
I liked this better than last time – the fish was still slightly obscured but the proportion of ingredients is getting better. Not too bad.
7. Scallops w/ Orange, Fennel, Olive, & Mint
The scallops were not as good as last time (they were Manresa-quality last time) and the dish is still way too busy. The various accompaniements are too strong for the scallops.
8. Seared Dayboat Scallops
Seared w/ pomegranate molasses & tangerine, these were pretty nice.Tthe molasses gave them a nice, satisfying crust. Slightly overcooked but i’m comparing it to, say, Le Bernardin.
9. Spicy Lemongrass Mussels
All of the above dishes are 1-2 pieces and then half of the oceans comes out w/ this dish. At least 25-30 mussels sitting in coconut milk, ginger, lime, bok choy, mushrooms, & snap peas. You’ve had it before, nothing new, but satisfying.
10. Seafood Chowder
I know chowder can be as divisive as pizza or bbq so read this knowing i haven’t eaten enough to take a side. The chowder itself was cream-based with applewood bacon imparting a wonderful smoky taste throughout. Chunks of fish, clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, & potatoes were present. Not your typical chowder but i’d order it again.
Overall, again, a perfect place to relax after a busy day shopping in Union Sq. They open @ 5:30 so their timing is perfect. It probably is some of the better fish in SF, and if the chef learns to add by subtraction, this place will become one of the better places in the city.