Lazy Bear, a restaurant located in the Mission here in San Francisco, is one of those places that you talk and talk about going to but seldom actually go. With their 12-15 course tasting menu putting you back over $200 (drinks not included) it is easy to see how this place isn’t for everyone. For the past few months, my friends and I had discussed going and experiencing all that Lazy Bear has to offer, so last month, at 12:00 pm on the dot when tickets went live for February, I jumped on six tickets. This ticket system is no joke. When noon hits, you better be by a computer with credit card in hand because this place sells out fast. Don’t expect to get the date or time you want if you wait more than a few hours to grab tickets. Fast forward a month, and we were beyond ready to see what was in store for the evening.
They offer two seatings, one at 6:00 pm and one at 8:30 pm. Since we were going on a Friday night and didn’t want to be rushed we opted for the later 8:30 pm timeslot. As you pull up in your car, you notice that the outside is very nondescript, and you would be hard pressed to guess what was inside. Stepping in, we were lead upstairs to their cocktail or lounge area where we were greeted with a cocktail to start off the night and small appetizers while the other seating was finishing their dinner. From the moment we sat down in the lounge area, it was a constant flow of extremely organized chaos for the remainder of our wonderful evening. Each of the waiters and hosts and anyone involved in the dinner buzzed around the room, clearing plates, refilling water, refilling drinks, passing out food etc. It was impressive how cohesive the whole unit worked together, as if in a beautifully choreographed dance, the entire night and the best part of all this? We could tell that every single person that worked there truly loved what they were doing.
In celebration of my birthday, my sweet parents sent us two bottles of sparkling wine to enjoy before dinner as well. This paired well with our first four courses or small appetizers:
Whipped Scrambled Eggs with Bacon, Maple and Hot Sauce
Shigoku Oyster with Kiwi and Chickweed
Beef Tartare with Brown Rice and Foie Gras
Tete de Moine with Celery Root
Asian Pear and Pine and finally Caviar on Sourdough
While the appetizers were small and bite size, each bite packed a powerful taste profile and each kept you thinking about what it was you just ate. The beef tartar was by far my favorite, and the flavors were unlike any other tartar I have ever tasted. After about 45 minutes, we were escorted group by group downstairs and seated in our designated spots for the evening. We were lucky enough to sit right next to the kitchen and, from that point on, the whole dinner was a fantastic show. At our seats, we were each given a little field guide booklet that listed each course and had space for us to make notes accordingly. The head chef, David Barzelay, came out and told us what to expect for the evening and that, before each course, the chef that was in charge of that course would come out and explain it. He also encouraged us to come up and watch as each course was being created, and to ask any questions we might have – it was definitely an open and interactive kitchen versus closed off from the guests. Chef David also explained our first course which was a Spelt and Rye Dinner Roll with their homemade cultured butter. We all knew we were in for a treat when he ended his speech with “the butter is f*cking awesome.” And with that, the dinner portion commenced. For the beverage options, you could either sign up for the beverage pairing which was $85, you could order al la cart, or bring in your own bottles and pay the $50/bottle corkage fee. For our group, since we had a cocktail and two bottles in the lounge, we brought two nice bottles of wine to pair with the rest of our dinner; 2011 Duckhorn, The Discussion, Red Blend and a 2011 Keenan 35th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon.
We sat, we laughed, we interacted with the kitchen and we drank wine through the next 10 courses; each being just as unique as the one before it. The portions were perfect considering how much food we were going to consume over the course of the evening. The following were our respective courses:
To try and describe each and every course would be quite impossible. Every bite was incredible. My favorites of the evening were the Dinner Roll (the butter was truly “f*cking awesome”), the Kohlrabi was actually a brown butter soup, and which this night was only the second time they had served it! Yep – they KILLED it – so amazing. I was also a big fan of the Rice Grits and in awe at how they spared no expense when it came to this dish, literally shaving a mound of black truffle on the top. My one single tiny complaint is that I wasn’t blown away by the dessert courses. The banana dessert was a tad on the dry/stale side and the Koshi which was an ice cream seemed lost with it’s flavors. My favorite dessert of the bunch was the Honey Meringue with Bee Pollen; the meringue was the definition of perfect and my only issue with that one was that it ended too soon.
By the end of the meal, I think we all wanted to change into some stretchy pants because we were all stuffed. The entire evening was unlike anything I had experienced before. While this meal was a little on the pricier side, when you break it down for everything they bring to you throughout the evening…15 courses along with an interactive kitchen and an amazing atmosphere; the price seemed like a steal. I would come back to Lazy Bear and bring out of town guests (as long as you know they are coming well in advance to buy tickets), to catch up with friends, to celebrate an event or even for a date night – basically, I would use any excuse to experience Lazy Bear over and over again. Thank you to Chef David and his team for a wonderful birthday and even better experience!
© Rachel Davidson and Wine Dine Wander, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rachel Davidson and Wine Dine Wander with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.