Been twice now, and we’ve now had most of the appetizer plates. Next we’ll start working through the mains (and the beers).
The hands down winner are the fried oyster sliders. You get 4 to a plate, and each one is about 2 bites. So it is perfect for 2 people. The oysters have a nice ocean flavor, and the bacon adds smoky saltiness. The arugula adds the bitter, and the tartar sauce adds tanginess, with the slight creaminess bringing the whole thing together. This is not to be missed.
The hummus is very fresh tasting, with tasty marinated white anchovies on top. Now here’s the thing: more white anchovies on top would look like too much. But the dish would benefit from more. The problem may be that they serve it in a relatively small bowl. If they flattened out the serving dish a little, they could put more anchovies…. but then maybe the hummus would dry out. Anyway, its delicious. The peppers and green olives give it variety of taste and texture, and the toast is delicate, almost too delicate, and easy to eat.
The shepherd’s pie is…. interesting. The mashed potatoes on top look as though they’ve been squeezed out of a press. In fact it’s not entirely clear they are potatoes until cutting into them with a fork. And it’s not baked like traditional shepherd’s pie. So there’s no crust on the top. But the potatoes are quite airy and light. The beef stew underneath has a deep rich red wine flavor, and together with the potatoes and peas, this is a very hearty and satisfying dish. It would be a good winter dish, and goes quite well with the corn salad (see below).
The scallops are cooked perfectly, with a little crust on the outside, but extremely tender nonetheless. You get 2 good-sized scallops, and they’re served over mashed parsnips with a butter sauce over the top. Very fresh tasting.
The pork belly was a little disappointing. First, the presentation. The actual slices of pork belly were a yellow-brown color, as opposed to a deeper brown that we’ve had elsewhere. This wasn’t a deal-killer, but it put up the sensors. The meat itself, while pretty fatty in comparison to others, turned out to be pretty good: quite tender, and therefore the texture of the fat was not markedly different from the meat itself. However, there was a skin on the outside of some of the pieces, which made for a little difficulty in cutting it. Texture aside, though, this dish was too sweet. Without the chard to cut the sweetness, it would have been nearly inedible. The pork belly itself did not retain enough of its original flavor to balance the sweetness, and the syrup on top, combined with the grapes was too much. I wonder if this dish would be better without any syrup, just the grapes. Or at least, significantly less syrup.
The corn side dish was basically a succotash. But a very delicious succotash. The corn and red peppers are fire roasted, and have a nice fresh, firm texture. And the rice vinegar dressing is perfect for this dish. It goes very well with the shepherd’s pie, adding freshness, crunchiness and tanginess to that dish.
They have like 30 different beers on tap, and we tasted the hard cider this last time. It tastes like Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice… a little sweet for our taste, but fun to try.
Service is very friendly and helpful, although the server can disappear for periods of time. This happened on both visits. We’ve eaten both times at non-peak times, and didn’t need reservations, in fact the place was nearly empty the first time. This would be ideal for a meal before the Arclight.
On a side note, they should really put up a barrier (like a few of those 4” steel poles filled with concrete) in front of the window on the corner. Every time a car skidded (maybe 3-4 times during dinner), people looked up to make sure it wasn’t coming through the window. If you're worried about this, sit back away from the front window.
6732 Sunset (at Ivar, near the Arclight/Amoeba)