How would you describe a memorable dining experience? To start with, I would imagine it would be different from the ordinary; it would be special; and yes, it would live up to its reputation, making you promise to return some day. This is exactly what happened to us when we dined at The Lazy Bear on 19th Street in San Francisco!
I think I would use "Creativity" to best describe the atmosphere, food, and lasting memory of The Lazy Bear. The creativity starts with the location itself. If you did not know where it was you are likely to walk right past as it has no signage of any sort at the door! I guess this fine dining place is pitched as being there for those who know where it is, if you get what I mean.
The name too comes out of the creativity of its Founder Chef David Barzelay. He was training to be a lawyer when he took up his first passion of cooking when he was laid off from his job in 2009. He started cooking for friends in his apartment and it became so popular that he opened a restaurant in an illicit warehouse! The Lazy Bear moved to its present location in 2014. I was amused to hear the restaurant got its name from an anagram of Barzelay!
The way you book a table here too is really innovative. You can't just call and book a table. You need to buy tickets as you would for a show.!! In our case, our son had booked the tickets for us so it was his treat! You will find all the information you need in the the website of The Lazy Bear. And yes, it has a rating of Two Stars by Michelin!
Coming now to our visit. A striking feature was the little red Lazy Bear "Field Guide" - a booklet given to you to make small notes/observations- if you wished. It details the different courses that you will be served during the Taster Menu and has a wine suggestion that would be most apt to have with that dish. It has a selection of anagrams and has space for you to make up your own!!
Let's talk about the food! First up was the aromatic Forager's Tisane. I came to know that tisanes are water- based infusions of herbs, flowers, leaves, and spices. In terms of taste, I guess the closest I could think off was like sipping a very mildly flavoured tea -though of course this has no tea in it.
The folks who serve each course also speak about the dish and the ingredients that go into it. We couldn't always follow as they rattled off what they had to say at great speed!
The presentation of this delicious dish was very innovative and beautiful. We enjoyed this with the suggested accompanying Billecart Salmon Brut Sous Bois Champagne from Mareuil-sur-Ay in France.
The Seafood Tower has to be one the top dishes I have ever tried anywhere. This had three components: the Virginia Oyster, Grilled Scallops and a Dungeness Crab Dip. Like the dishes before, the presentation was very creative and the dish tasted heavenly!!
The next course had Arrowhead Cabbage made with Broccoli, Brussels Krout and Allium Pancake which was excellent.
Then followed Cauliflower- California White Sturgeon Caviar served with wild greens and Bodega Bay Black Cod served with sea lettuce and spring greens.
Both these dishes were delicious and as always very attractively presented. I was most impressed with their exhibition of the art of presenting their offerings.
Then came a Lazy Bear Cultured Butter- a pretzel roll
The next course was Chicken and Dumplings followed by Grilled Lion's Mane- green and white asparagus with Bearnaise Sauce and Sorrel with Coconut and Lime.
All good things must come an end- as did our dinner. We closed with the dessert - Honey Cakes made with Yeasted Cream, Chamomile Creme Anglaise, which were outstanding.
Along with the dessert we were served Gummy Bear Treats of Strawberry and Elderflower as also Macaron- a preserved Meyer Lemon Tart.
Not just that! On the way out, we were given some goodies for breakfast the next day- banana bread and cold coffee!
So how was the dining experience overall? I would say it was excellent! The Lazy Bear is highly recommended. I realise that a visit here will set you back a fair amount - but it is special and so worth it!