Once upon a time Bar Crudo was nestled in a tiny nook on San Francisco's Bush Street. Getting a seat at the small bar felt like winning the lottery; much less landing an actual table. Because we often stay near Union Square when visiting the city the north of Union Square location made it a favorite spot for Happy Hour or a post-dinner snack. Over the years we've enjoyed several bubbly-induced nights at the restaurant's tiny counter, pounding oysters on the half shell and damning ourselves for not coming up with the raw bar concept first.
Since it has historically taken some effort to actually get a seat at Bar Crudo, I was rather surprised during our November visit to the city when, mere days out from Saturday night, I was able to book a table for Happy Hour via Open Table. Mystified, I continued to revisit the confirmation message on my BlackBerry to make sure I'd read the information correctly. Finally, it hit me what was indeed out of place: the restaurant was listed as being on Divisadero Street. Hence I came out from beneath the rock under which I'd been living to learn Bar Crudo had relocated to the Western Addition. As we realized that Saturday evening, the new location has all the charm and loft space as the old one, with a much more open and spacious main level. And with glowing candles in crannies along the wall and a mural of mermaids (the Bar Crudo logo) that is a cool version of the old T&A mudflaps, there is a certain sexiness to the new digs: perfect for dining on raw oysters.
Small Seafood Platter: 6 oysters, 3 shrimp, 3 mussels, 3 clams. 1/2 crab - $40
I wish every Saturday night began with a platter like this one. On this particular visit we shared this between two of us though we have been known to make it work for four people. Parties with bigger groups -- and wallets -- can get double the pleasure for double the price: the large platter has twice the portions and will run you $80.
Raw Fish: 4 pieces for $12
Arctic Char with horseradish cream, wasabi tobiko and dill
Hokkaido Scallops with celery root and roasted apple puree, truffle salt
Tombo Tuna with pear, hazelnut and pomegranate reduction
Butterfish with olive, orange vinaigrette, black garlic, shiso
A bit difficult to share if your intention is to try everything, but beautifully constructed pairings nonetheless.
Seafood Chowder - Fish, mussels, shrimp, squid, potatoes, applewood smoked bacon - $7
After trying this soup it is fair to say that I left my heart in San Francisco. Typically I am not a fan of overly spicy food (J would say that I find Dorito's spicy) but even he agreed this chowder had some kick to it -- and even I liked it! Maybe it was cayenne? The tang danced in perfect sync with the smokiness from the bacon and kept the chowder from tasting overly creamy. We shared the small cup, which was a decent portion for two given that this was our pre-dinner, but the zesty flavor had us scraping the bottom with our spoon and wanting to order a second.
655 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA 94117