More Adventures in San Francisco! (PS: You MUST Eat at Lazy Bear)

5 Oct

Sorry for abandoning the blog! James and I went to San Francisco and I got sick as soon as we got back. =( But I’m feeling a bit better now – well enough to do a fun run tomorrow? Still undecided! But anyway, James had to meet with some people at the Amazon SF office and since his hotel room was already paid for I decided to tag along.

Day 1

We dropped our stuff off at the hotel and had brunch at Brenda’s, which was a 15 minute walk. Unfortunately it was right through the Tenderloin, which is probably the sketchiest area I’ve ever walked through. There was literal human shit on the footpath and the streets smelled like wee. Also on every stretch of street were people dealing crack, shooting up and begging for money. There isn’t anywhere in Melbourne or Seattle that even remotely compares, so that was a bit of a shock.

And then we turned the corner and saw Brenda’s, where people were clustered outside waiting for a seat.

“Man,” I thought. “This better be good.” We entered, put our names on the list and went outside to wait.

It was maybe a 10-15 minute wait, which wasn’t too bad. We ordered a flight of beignets: plain, chocolate, apple/cinnamon and crayfish ($9.50). James’ favourite was the apple/cinnamon and mine was the crayfish. They were excellent: crispy, light as air and super filling.

The rest of the meal suffered a little in comparison. James had the po’boy (it was a special of the day – I think around $11?):

He said the first few bites were really good but then it was a bit much for him.

The po’boy was more interesting than my Hometown Fry: fried oyster, bacon and scallion scramble with hash and biscuit ($11)

I think I keep trying to like fried oysters but I don’t. =( Plus I was already really full – I had to triage and abandon the hash and biscuit. If I come back I think I’d get the crawfish beignets and some fried chicken. With some more beignets to take home. =D

Even though I didn’t super love my meal I think quality-wise it blows away any breakfast I’ve had in Seattle. If Brenda’s were in Seattle there would be hour-long lines for it. Those freaking beignets still haunt my dreams …

But anyway afterwards we still had a lot of time to kill before our hotel room was ready so we took the bus to Presidio and visited the yoda statue. He’s life-sized and comes with a miniature-sized James head.

We randomly walked around the waterfront area which was beautiful on such a clear day, especially with this view of the Golden Gate bridge.

There were lots of people jogging and if we’d planned it in advance we could have brought our running gear. James tried to do some l-sits:

And that was enough exercise for the day. =P

We got back to the hotel just in time to check in and decompress before Bo and Christine took us to Sausalito, which isn’t too far from San Francisco but is this affluent, touristy seaside area. It seriously could not have been more picturebook charming if it tried: there was even a guy at the waterfront making these zen rock sculptures:

He didn’t use any adhesives – it took him ages to stack a single rock (you can see him behind that last sculpture on the right).

Then we headed to the Mission, where we wandered around, visited Dolores Park (which was the best park ever, though the lack of pot-smell made me Seattle-wistful) and basically bummed around until our reservation at Lazy Bear.

OMG Lazy Bear.

Seriously, if you live in SF you need to enter the lottery for their dinner because it is incredible – one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Lazy Bear is an underground restaurant that only seats like 50 people a night (for a 3.5 hour dinner! Oh my!), and instead of allocating seats on a first come first served basis, they hold a lottery. I was sooo stoked that I got in on my first try!

The dinner is held at a constantly-changing location. This was ours:

Pretty much everyone would arrive at the door, poke their head in, look confused and ask their party “is this the place?”, then tentatively step in. Which is exactly what we did too. =P

The dining set up was two long banquet tables. We got there early, so chose prime positions at the end of the table:

And each table setting came with a menu:

Our menu:

Snacks (there were 3 or 4 large snacks but they weren’t listed on the menu – one was scrambled eggs made with bacon fat that was whipped into this light-as-air foam, another was a kind of tomato jelly with basil, another was a cronut – croissant/donut – I have a feeling there was another one but it’s not coming to mind)

Cauliflower smoked char roe, shin li pear, chrysanthemum

Matsutake abalone, pine nut agnolotti, matsutake broth

Octopus saffron, mussels, chorizo, mint

Hot Chicken pickles, little gems, potato salad

Veal Short Loin butter beans, kale, apple mostarda

Concord Grape creme fraiche, cucumber, dill, celery

Treats (a beard papa-like custard pastry, a little square of strawberry jelly and sous vide cookie dough)

I’m so sorry I don’t have photos but the lighting was no good. I was hoping they’d upload photos to the website but they haven’t – if I’d known I would have taken my crappy photos anyway. =( Because look at the other photos of their food! God, it’s like food art.

Everything was so interesting, and obviously so much thought had been put into every part of the meal. It was just light-years away from what you could make yourself at home. Honestly for $95 + tip it was a screaming good deal.

Each bite was like a party in my mouth that I never wanted to end – it was like “oh! This is what beans are supposed to taste like!” and there were flavour combos that I would never have thought of but were so amazing (grapes and pickles? Who would have thought!). Everyone brought their own booze and there was no corkage fee. Outstanding.

You could also go into the kitchen and ask questions.

Before every dish the head chef would come out and tell us about what inspired him, which made it into much more of an experience than a meal. Which I know sounds super wanky, but normally James doesn’t go in for this kind of thing and even he thought it was incredible.

It was also funny cos the chef was clearly getting progressively drunker as the night went on. =D But before we left he still came over and chatted with us, asking what our favourite and least favourite dishes were. It was hard not to gush. I gushed. =(

We had some amazing meals this trip but Lazy Bear was by far the highlight. If you live in San Francisco and love food there is NO EXCUSE for not trying this amazing restaurant. Do it. DO IT NOW.

I’m so jealous of you. =(

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6 Responses to “More Adventures in San Francisco! (PS: You MUST Eat at Lazy Bear)”

  1. anon October 6, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    could you describe the main dishes (the things in between snacks and treats) a little bit more? I’ve been obsessing over this place forever.

    • pamperedhousewife October 6, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      With pleasure! =D

      I also remember one of the extra treats! It was a square of thick homemade rye (?) bread with a side of the most AMAZING butter I’ve ever had. I remember the chef was really excited about the butter – they make it themselves and let it culture or ferment (I can’t remember the term he used) for longer so it’s tangier. It was so soft and salty – almost like a mild cheese! I ate the leftover butter with a spoon (and then James’ leftover butter).

      The cauliflower was this pureed cauliflower with slivers of pear, cauliflower and chrysanthemum, dotted with caviar. It was so pretty – the bright orange caviar against the white cauliflower!

      The matsutake was a kind of mushroom IIRC. The broth was super refined tasting – just really clean and mushroomy (but not overpoweringly so). I loooved the stuffing of the agnolotti – though having had paper-thin HK dumplings I thought the pastry was a touch thick.

      I don’t remember a lot about the octopus dish – it was good but I remember it being my least favourite of the night just because I wasn’t super excited by the flavour profile (and I tend to find chorizo quite dry).

      The hot chicken was James’ favourite! The chicken (breast – ugh, I wish Americans would use thigh!) had a surprising kick to it! I also remember this was the point I was getting REALLY full so I gave James one of my chicken bits. =) There was a kind of deconstructed potato salad – these beautiful slices of potato, dilly cucumbers and a kind of ranch sauce (best I’ve ever had!) that was amazing if you stacked them on your fork to taste them all at once.

      The veal short loin was done sous-vide style, so meltingly tender. There were deep-fried kale leaves and the butter beans were great!

      I could have the timing slightly wrong but I think around this point there was a passionfruit palate-cleanser. James got one that was basically double the quantity of everyone else’s (our friends were in the kitchen as this was going down and said that they’d held up his against another one and said “what’s gone on here?” Ha!)

      The concord grape was this bright purple sorbet that was basically pure grape! The chef said he’d found these amazing grapes at the market so wanted to base a whole dish around their awesomeness. We’d take little scoops of the other little sides (creme fraiche, cucumber, dill and celery) to taste with the sorbet. So fun! Our friends were in the kitchen as this was getting plated too and said they were very exacting with the presentation – the sorbet had to be in the exact middle of the plate, etc.

      So yeah, that was pretty much our meal. Next time I go I’m definitely going to take photos. It was so much fun – every time the chef mentioned a particularly cool thing (sous-vide cookie dough!) people would ooh and aah, and I’m pretty sure everyone wandered out of there in a delighted food-filled daze. =)

      It was so cool to be able to hear what went into the dishes and see stuff going on in the kitchen. Even if I hadn’t loved the food I’d still be able to see the value because it was obvious how much effort had gone into every aspect of the meal. It’s rare that you get to have a meal that follows the chef’s vision so closely you know? He doesn’t have to have X dish because it’s popular, or Y because the restaurant has to have a steak dish on the menu. It was just such a wonderful, wonderful experience. =)

  2. David Barzelay October 25, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    Thanks for the awesome write-up! Just so you know, we have now posted lots of photos from that menu. http://www.lazybearsf.com/blog/ and scroll down (or later on they’ll still be at this location, but they won’t be on top for long: http://www.lazybearsf.com/blog/photos/).

    • pamperedhousewife October 25, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

      Oh sweet, thanks for the heads-up. And thanks again for the awesome food! =D

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