I promise that I’ll get back to posting recipes and home cooking tales next week. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking…I just haven’t been cooking as much this week. Had a client party after work one day, went to check out Johnny Greenwood’s Popcorn Superhet Receiver last night and going out with friends tonight and tomorrow. What this all really means is that I am doing a full download of restaurants I’m visiting and that includes last night’s pre-symphony trip to Hayes Valley little gem, Bar Jules. Bar Jules certainly has a controversial reputation here in the city. Some folks absolutely love it. And some absolutely can’t stand it. Once I saw it, I knew I had to try it. I’m one of those probably annoying people that makes 3 restaurant reservations 1 week ahead and then cancels all but one or all and ends up going to a totally random place. I do this with a lot of things. I’m a Gemini, so it probably makes sense.
The inside of Bar Jules was just too cute to resist (bright blue walls, cozy little tables and a name that pays homage to the owner’s dog). The concept of the restaurant is aimed at highlighting fresh, seasonal food–something I can very well admire and relate to. The menu, thus, changes every day and is written on a chalkboard on the wall. Points for not printing out menus every day and being green! Anyway, we arrived at 6 and were promply seated, but were glad we got there early. By 7ish, the restaurant was absolutely packed.
We decided to follow the waiter’s recommendations on all accounts: wine, manilla clams in light broth and quail (times 2). Everything was absolutely delicious. I’m not a huge fan of clams, but the dish was so airy and light and the broth was so perfect for dipping soft, crusty bread, I was beyond pleased. The sprinkling of bread crumbs made it a bit more substantial, but not overpowering in the least. The highlight, of course, was the quail, or should I say two quails. Each dish came with 2 fire-roasted quails on a bed of arugula, figs and toasted almonds. I would have preferred my greens more on the dry side (they were a bit oily), but the quails were delicious. For $26, I’d say it was a bit of a splurge, but the portion was well balanced (you rarely see that much quail on a plate at any restaurant). The service was definitely not comparable to some of the finer and established restaurants in the city (our glasses of wine arrived at different times, the waitress who brought out our meals was confused about which table they belonged to). That said, I was certainly not turned off. I think the best part about Bar Jules is its ever-changing menu. After last night’s meal, I’m curious to see what else they’ve got in store!