I just want to first preface that I am not one to really write any restaurant reviews. I mostly enjoy blogging recipes that I create and share travel and food experiences with my readers. But my experience with Lazy Bear was such a unique and enjoyable one, I felt the need to share the experience with a post so that those who have not gone, will go and those who can’t go can at least semi-experience it through my images.
Lazy Bear is one of San Francisco’s most unique restaurant concepts around, that started off as an underground dinner party in 2009. It now has a permanent location and offers two seatings a night, Tuesday-Saturday, one at 6:15 and another at 8:00. To book a seating, you must purchase tickets ahead of time. For details on how to book one of the incredible dinners, go to their site Lazybearsf.com.
Being that I usually only take Sundays off from work, it was not easy for me to finally get a night off where I could experience Lazy Bear, as well as procure a ticket. I am pleased to say though, that the wait is now finally over to try this place. Last night, I had the pleasure of dining at Lazy Bear: FINALLY! From a chef’s standpoint this entire concept is extremely exciting in that I get to see all the action unfold right in front of me. The entire staff there (chefs, servers, sommelier, host) all are extremely friendly and hospitable. They not only welcome you into their dining room with open arms but also encourage you to explore and ask questions in the kitchen. Go in and ask them how to they prepped something or what are they plating, etc. Being stuck in my restaurant kitchen, it’s refreshing to come out and see others working their craft with such passion. As a consumer who loves food, the excitement lies in what creative dishes they will churn out. And as an amateur food photographer, it was a dream come true to be able to get in there, where all the action is happening. Needless to say I was super excited to check this place out.
I had the 8:00pm reservation and upon arriving, you see these two long communal tables occupied with the 6:15 crowd. You are then greeted by their host Akeel, who brings you upstairs to the living room where the rest of the 8:00pm dining crew are socializing and hanging out. In the living room, a cozy space filled with couches and chairs, you are served cocktails, house punch, and an array of small bites from the kitchen. Within minutes you taste, Whipped Scrambled Eggs with bacon,hot sauce, maple, then comes Oysters with Citrus Kosho Froth, followed by Sea Urchin over buttermilk pana cotta,then some Duck Liver Mousse, Duck Confit Hushpuppies, Duck Slim Jim, and finally Bone Marrow Cheddar Fondue Crudite. Now this is a real dinner party! Absolutely loved this idea, not to mention the anticipation it stirs up in all the customers just waiting to go downstairs and experience the grand show.
As the 6:15 crowd clears out, the tables get set up for us and we get escorted down to our assigned seats at the two communal long tables made of elm wood. You can do wine pairings with the meal which I highly recommend but if wine isn’t your thing, they also have a tasting of beers which the couple next to us partook in and was pleased with.
Now with all drinks taken care of, the Chef explains to us that they will all rotate and introduce each dish to us as they come out. What a fantastic idea! Let each chef who is always behind the scene come out and speak to the diners, thereby personalizing the experience even more, all the way down to each dish. And let’s not forget they even provide you with the cutest little Lazy Bear Notepad for you to take notes in and lists all the dishes you have the entire evening in case you miss their description. Now we are all set and ready to go. So let’s begin!
First Course: Brown Butter Brioche, Cultured Butter
I went to Son’s and Daughters a few weekends back and they had a similar bread course using Rye Bread which I loved, BUT this knocked their version out of the park. Can I just say, I wanted to eat that butter by the spoonful because it was just THAT good. And just when you think you can’t take your eyes off that sweet creamy smooth piece of quenelled butter with just the right amount of saltiness you bite into the brioche with it slathered on and you think you’ve just died and gone to heaven.
Second Course: French Sorrels, Snails, Garden Herbs, Live Spot Prawn, Geoduck Clam, Toasted Barley, Kamut in Molasses, Red Bean Sorrel
I grew up eating snails and geoduck clams at Chinese restaurants and have seen their limited ways of preparing them, sauteed for snails, sauteed, poached, or sashimi style for geoduck. So of course, when I tasted this dish I was pleasantly surprised by the lightness of flavors and the textures from the toasted barley and kamut. Unlike the dishes I’ve had in my past, this is the opposite. It’s not greasy and slathered in heavy sauces. This was light, refreshing, and very delicate in flavor.
Third Course: Charred Onion Broth, Benton Country Ham, Egg Yolk Poached in Oil, pickled apples, charred scallion
Yea you had me at the Egg Yolk poached in oil. Any yolk in a rich broth is a win win for me, especially one that’s cooked to perfection. The yolk was rich, creamy, and just right when you cut into it. Everything about this dish was perfect, the slight smokiness from the charred onions, the rich savory flavor of the ham in the broth, balanced by the little bites of pickled apples. So I’ll take this bowl of broth and make it 3 times bigger, add noodles, 2 more egg yolks and throw some of that ham in there and I’ve got myself an incredible meal in itself.
Fourth Course: Saffron Lobster, grits, tokyo turnips, pickled chard stems, dehydrated roe chip
Loved the acidity from the pickled chard stems which help balance out the creaminess and richness of the grits and lobster. Dehydrated roe chip = talk about a high protein chip low carb chip! Can we make this a new snack craze please:)
Fifth Course: Sou Vide Squab, Caramelized/Roasted Pear, Shallot, Foie Gras, Chicory-ALmond Streusel
AMAZING!The squab was cooked perfectly.The pear was sweet, rich and slightly charred which added a hint of caramel.
The foie was seared just right with a little sprinkle of salt on top that was just perfectness.
Sweet, salty, savory all in one bite. I actually loved this dish so much I even polished my date’s entire plate too since he doesn’t eat squab. (Sorry not sorry you don’t eat Squab and I do:))This is the type of dish you want to run back into the kitchen and hug the chef for putting together. Definitely a highlight of my meal here!
Sixth Course: Wagyu Ribeye, stewed peanuts, green peppercorn, Sweetbreads, Fish sauce, coconut milk, thai jungle curry sauce
At this point, I’m still trying to come off my high from the Squab Dish. As great as this dish was and with the phenomenal thai jungle curry, amazing fried sweetbreads made like little southern fried chicken bites, I just couldn’t shake off the Squab. The mushroom was smokey and delicious as well…But no matter what, it’s like that first love you can’t shake. Sorry Mr. Wagyu, while you may be a 10, Mr Squab here is off the charts and a 12.
Seventh Course: Intermezzo : Carrot, orange, fennel, Cream cheese, carrot tapioca, fennel chip
Super creative intermezzo not to mention beautiful. Looked like a little floral garden except edible. It was super refreshing with the slight surprise from the cream cheese, like a fancy delicate orange creamsicle paired with little chewy carrot tapioca balls. This is totally speaking to my Asian Roots here with the tapioca balls. The Pastry Chef described it as almost an ode to the boba milk tea drinks. Definitely a fan of the flavors here and the tapioca balls.
Eighth Course: Dessert: Sticky Toffee Pudding, Dates, Thickened Sour Cream, Candied Black walnut
This was moist, dense, spicy, with a touch of creaminess from the thickend sour cream. All the textures and the play on sweet and a little spicy was exactly what this Toffee Pudding needs to be. It’s rich without being too heavy.
Ninth Course: Mignardise: Negroni Pate Feui, frozen smore, candy cap financier, mousse
OK so let me preface that by now, I’ve consumed over 16 different courses and 5 glasses of wine, 1 glass of champagne and a cocktail. My stomach is about to burst at this point and not to mention they served the Lazy Bear Iced Coffee with this insane whipped foam on top that resembled a custard that I downed like a caffeine deprived addict. So while I had the tiniest bite of the negroni pate feui and the frozen smores, I really didn’t taste it much to give my two cent. Looked fabulous is all I can say:)
After the gut busting meal I just ingested, I wanted to take one last visit in the kitchen to thank the chefs, chat with them a bit
and snap a few shots with them. AFter all, the true stars here at Lazy Bear are all the Chefs making the food happen right in front of your eyes and of course the rest of the team who supports and works together as a whole to make the entire dining experience so unique and pleasurable. Not often do you feel after eating at a restaurant that you want to smile and say thank you to every one who served you or helped you with your food or drinks.
Needless to say I will definitely be back and next time with some newbies so that they can take part in something special!