Beef Bavette (Baraka, San Francisco CA)

The Spot: Baraka, San Francisco CA (Potrero Hill)

The Dish: Creekstone Farms Natural Beef Bavette

Incredible. Decadent. Unbelievably good.

The beef bavette at Baraka is that rare meal that can revive the glory of food and life in any dispirited soul. Certainly one of the best meat dishes I’ve enjoyed in 2008, Baraka’s beef bavette (a tender steak cut from the flap of the beef loin) is the kind of meal you daydream about obsessively until you realize you have to eat it again or you will confound the daily rhythms of your life.

The parsley bone marrow butter alone—glazed across the beautiful, fairly large portion of beef bavette—should get your heart racing after the first bite. It’s a rich and sumptuous touch that deifies perfect, medium-rare beef. As with the other dishes I’ve tried at Baraka, Chef Chad Newton blends flavors that successfully juxtapose each other in the palate. There’s the earthy, slightly bitter baby Savoy spinach, mildly sweet, white cippolini onions cooked sous-vide, and decadent, tender braised beef cheeks stuffed into a beef bone. The sauce bordelaise—which combines bone marrow, dry red wine, shallots, and demi-glace—is a superb complement as a lush moat around the beef, which sits squarely atop the spinach between the beef bone tower and the smaller stack of cippolinis in a cool, very architectural presentation.

This is the best beef bavette I’ve had in the past 5 years; a simply phenomenal dish. The only slight critique I might suggest would be to relocate the baby Savoy spinach to the side instead of beneath the bavette, simply because the crispness of greens stand out more when shielded a bit from the beef juices and sauce.

As described on the menu: Creekstone Farms Natural Beef Bavette – Braised Beef Cheeks, Baby Savoy Spinach, Parsley Bone Marrow Butter, Sous Vide Cippolinis, Bordelaise

The Grade: Sterling Awesome/Phenomenal (5 out of 5)

The Damage: $27 (quite a bargain, relative to other SF restaurant prices)

The Skinny: Baraka
288 Connecticut Street (at 18TH Street)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone:
(415) 255-0370
Dinner only, Sunday – Thursday 5:30pm to 10:00pm; Fridays/Saturdays 5:30pm to 11:00pm

Chef: Chad Newton (former Sous Chef at Postrio)

Sous Chef: Ashton Mullikin (worked with New Orleans greats Susan Spicer, Andrew Jaeger)

Baraka website: http://www.sfbaraka.com/

Open Table: Baraka online reservations

Baraka on Urbanspoon

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Pork Belly (Baraka, San Francisco CA)

PORK BELLY

The Dish: Slow-Roasted Pork Belly

For meat lovers, pork belly is clearly in the meaty appetizer Pantheon. And, in keeping with its perennially high commodity market valuation status, pork belly is nearly always served in frustratingly miniscule portions. (It’s still hard for me to take Wall Street financial commentators in pin-striped suits seriously when they soberly converse about the fluctuating price of pork bellies, but it’s one of the few remaining amusing ironies of capitalism.)

Fantastic Pork Belly, Baraka SF
Fantastic Pork Belly, Baraka SF

Again, Baraka in San Francisco delivers a most welcome surprise with its slow-roasted pork belly appetizer, both in terms of quantity (about 4 times the amount of belly you’ll usually get) and quality. In the large cut portion, the belly is meatier and fleshier and has more hints of ham in flavor than other, smaller pork belly appetizers.

While Baraka’s pork belly does not have the de facto crisped skin, that’s no detriment to the overall delight. The dish has a marvelous and savory balance of flavors, with the combination of earthy lentils, slightly sweet Anchor Steam Porter foam, and a bit of warm crunch from the braised trotters (the more pleasant British term for pig’s feet/ankles). This will rank as one of my favorite appetizers in San Francisco for this year.

Described on the menu: Slow Roasted Pork Belly – Braised Trotters, De Puy Lentils, Anchor Steam Porter Foam

The Grade: Sterling (5 out of 5)

Also could be described as excellent or exceptional.

The Damage: $11

An incredible value for the price, the pork belly appetizer is definitely generous enough to share.

The Skinny: Baraka
288 Connecticut Street (at 18TH Street)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 255-0370
Dinner only, Sunday – Thursday 5:30pm to 10:00pm; Fridays/Saturdays 5:30pm to 11:00pm

Chef:  Chad Newton (former Sous Chef at Postrio)

Sous Chef: Ashton Mullikin (worked with New Orleans greats Susan Spicer, Andrew Jaeger)

Baraka website: http://www.sfbaraka.com/

Open Table: Baraka online reservations

Baraka on Urbanspoon

Bone Marrow (Baraka, San Francisco CA)

Bone Marrow

The Dish: Roasted Beef Bone Marrow

If you indeed enjoy the marrow, prepare to swoon. Baraka (in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill) makes the best beef bone marrow dish I’ve had yet; it’s utterly fantastic. Generous portions of bone marrow are served inside three large bones; the tiny spoon and plate of warm toast points arrive simultaneously. The wonderful marrow plate here at Baraka is due to a combination of compelling contrasts: pickled mushrooms and crisp watercress. The mushrooms vary by season—sometimes chanterelles, sometimes decadent morels—but the pickling is a clever approach that counter-balances the entire palate.

Roasted Beef Bone Marrow, Baraka restaurant, SF
Roasted Beef Bone Marrow, Baraka restaurant, SF

Slathering a rich meaty glob in the lush cabernet wine reduction, then rummaging up a bit of pickled mushroom and crisp, refreshing watercress on the toast yields a true mouthful of ecstasy. If  you like meaty things, it’s almost embarrassing how dog-like you may become in your avid scooping (or sucking) of the last marrow bits from the bone.

Described on the menu: Roasted Beef Bone Marrow – Pickled Yellowfoot Chanterelles, Sausalito Springs Watercress, Cabernet Reduction.

The Grade: Sterling (5 out of 5)

There will be few bone marrow dishes as delicious as at Baraka.

The Damage: $9

This is a glorious (albeit slightly gluttonous) appetizer for just $9. Think of how expensive so many ‘small plates’ restaurants are and consider the bone marrow at Baraka. Every meat lover in San Francisco should go to Baraka and order this thing.

The Skinny: Baraka
288 Connecticut Street (at 18th Street)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 255-0370
Dinner only, Sunday – Thursday 5:30pm to 10:00pm; Fridays/Saturdays 5:30pm to 11:00

Chef:  Chad Newton (former Sous Chef at Postrio)

Sous Chef: Ashton Mullikin (worked with New Orleans greats Susan Spicer, Andrew Jaeger)

Baraka website: http://www.sfbaraka.com/

Open Table: Baraka online reservations


Baraka on Urbanspoon