Barrel Room's Latin America changeover just began 4/13; it will remain through the end of July or August 2015. This past Saturday 4/18 we held a group dinner at TBR with 14 people. The food won raves. We highly recommend a visit (this is a small place so reservations are essential for weekends).
Biggest winners on the food side were:
• Ahi tuna ceviche with passionfruit
• Spicy mushroom with cilantro rice (this was ranked the best dish by 10 of the group; the other 4 didn't like spicy food so didn't try it)
• Dates with blue cheese & walnuts (we think it's better without the optional bacon)
• Salt cod cakes are good but the cumin/red bell aioli lifts them to a new level
• Merguez (housemade beef/lamb) with Israeli couscous and cabbage slaw
• Roast chicken was very nicely handled
• Ice cream sandwiches, especially the Earl Grey Tea flavor.
Loser was oddly the tri-tip. This is odd because back in Aug 2014 on the Spain/Portugal menus, the tri-tip was by far the best entrée. But this time it tasted like they forgot to salt it, and the chimichurri wasn't enough to make up for that lack. I have mentioned it to them so they may be tweaking that dish soon.
Note the excellent charcuterie platter and cheese platters are holdovers from the past French menu. They said they've been concentrating so much on the new SF space that they didn't have time to change these dishes out yet. As it is, the Latin America menu was two weeks late debuting.
Because it was such a large group we pre-ordered the wines, all of which were well received. The Chenin Blanc is dry on the finish but has enough residual sugar in the mouth to work with the food, which is more strongly spiced than the Spain or French menus were. The Malbec is from a vineyard very far south, so it is lighter than most Malbecs.
• 2013 Chenin Blanc from L. A. Cetto, Mexico's Guadalupe Valley.
• 2013 Malbec from Noemia 'a lisa', Argentina, Patagonia
• Pacory 'cidre le costaud', France. I originally was going to order the outstanding Spanish Poma Aurea hard cider, but the Latin American menu is spicy enough to warrant the slightly sweeter Costaud.
For those of you who enjoy trying new wines, TBR has an amazing variety of wine flights on their wine list (link below). You can choose from:
• Three featured flights (one sparkling, the other two a mix of red/white by country)
• Seven white wine flights by varietals (with one from CA for comparisons)
• Eleven red white flights (ditto above)
• Six two-glass blind comparisons between CA and SA by varietals