As a new transplant to the San Francisco area with a few very picky, very foodie local friends, I was informed that Bar Crudo was one of those venues that deserved its place on the area’s essential dining experiences. That’s nothing to take lightly, considering the wealth of amazing restaurants here. I may be a writer covering consumer technology, but when it comes to geeking out, food could give my gadget obsession a run for its money. And frankly, I’m just a sucker for crudo, so I was immediately intrigued. But of course my journo training kicked in, and I just had to do a little digging before I could heartily recommend this venue. The reviews didn’t disappoint: Zagat called it “sublime,” Michelin guide described it as “super-fresh seafood artfully prepared,” and plenty of other reviewers — both professional and amateur — had gushed about this place. Well, after dining here, I and my fellow Mystery Meet cohorts can attest that they were right: There was absolutely nothing crude about our three-course meal at Bar Crudo.
Crudo Sampler: The morsels of raw Arctic Char, Butterfish, Mahi Mahi and Scallop on a bed of root vegetable purée were pristine. The expert knifework and keen understanding of flavors and textures were obvious to me in this dish. But I wondered if I was idealizing this plate because I had selected this restaurant. And so I I looked to my newfound friend in front of me, who hailed from Alaska, and asked what he thought. The man knew seafood inside and out, and I felt validated when he gave me a big smile and an equally big thumbs-up. I settled in, unable to wait for the second course.
Lobster Beet Salad: The golden and chioga beets with lobster came topped with pistachios, arugula and burrata, dressed with the perfect amount of banyuls vinaigrette. The petite plate belied how satisfying this dish was. Lobster is inherently rich and delectable, and it was well-complemented by the clean flavors of the beets. The pistachios offered a decent amount of crunch, and the creamy burrata gave it another dimension with a bit of chewiness, all against a subtly peppery background of wilted arugula. Hands down, our crew named this dish the favorite of the night.
Red Idaho Trout: If the meal had ended with the first two courses, our group would’ve been perfectly happy. But oh no, there was course three to consider. When the Red Idaho Trout arrived, it was much like the other dishes — gorgeous, but succinct. And yet, once again, we were surprised by how incredibly satisfying this dish was. The trout was prepared with sunchokes, escarole, roasted baby fennel, beurre rouge and lemon oil. Before diving in, I looked around and noticed that our fun-loving, social group was absolutely silent, utterly engaged in the plate in front of them. I can hardly blame them. We were all full at this point, and yet none of us could help but dive into this plate.
The restaurant only served beer and wine, but the options seemed apropos to the menu selections, with interesting craft beers and well-curated wine selections.
The group formed an intimate crew spanning mobile app developers to physicians and philanthropists. The conversations were alight that night, and yet, despite our varying backgrounds, we immediately felt a camaraderie. We were there for the same reason — to share good conversation and a fabulous dining experience. And judging by our reluctance to part ways, it seems we accomplished our goal.
The only thing that matched the amazing food at Bar Crudo was the company. That’s the point of a Mystery Meet — to share an incredible experience with like-minded people. And so I am incredibly grateful for getting to share this event with such a terrific group. We chatted over everything from how slammed our bartender was to the finer points of beer craft, as well as what it was like to grow up in the outer reaches of Alaska. The conversation was as stimulating as the meal, and considering how expertly crafted our meal was, there is no finer compliment. Incredible dishes can be savored alone, but when community’s involved, it can elevate the meal. And that’s exactly what happened during this outing.