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L.A.'s best new restaurant in 2009: Bar*Food on Wilshire

Potato puffs
Potato puffs

Thai bangers and mash at Bar*Food
thaibangers(1).jpg

In the space that was once home to Japanese restaurant Zu Robata, a new gastropub has been unveiled – Bar*Food, helmed by chef/owner Jason Killalee. The pub’s sleek yet comfortable design invites you to sit back and unwind with an ice cold draught beer or a glass of meticulously selected wine…but be sure you check out the small yet eclectic food menu while you’re here.

The rectangular bar may take pride of place in the center of the open dining room, but it’s the kitchen that deserves top honors here. Yes, the twelve beers on tap (with more to come by the end of the summer) would be a boon to any establishment, yet it’s the food that will leave you begging for more.

The Thai bangers and mash – the owner’s twist on the European classic – is, quite simply, divine. Two Thai sausages, made of pork and fermented rice, perch atop a hill of green mashed potatoes. The creamy taters have been infused lightly with cilantro, hence the unusual coloring, but the flavor doesn’t overpower the rest of the dish. The ginger-onion “gravy” brings everything together, exploding on your palate with a tangy zing.

The mac and cheese is a wonderfully simple dish. Perfectly cooked elbows swim alongside chunks of savory bacon and crisp green onion in a bowl of oozing cheese to put your taste buds on overload. And why not add another starch while you’re at it – the potato puffs are a delightful surprise, crisp on the outside, hot and gooey on the inside. They were just as the owner had described – golden dollops of fried mashed potatoes.

The spicy tuna is a revelation. Sushi in a gastropub? Yes, please! The crispy rice cake is done to perfection, not overcooked as is the case in many restaurants, and the chipotle mayonnaise that accompanies the tuna packs a nice punch.

But perhaps the greatest thing about Bar*Food is the dessert menu. From good old-fashioned ice cream cones to a magnificent apple tart, there’s sure to be a choice for everyone. The bread pudding is not to be missed – a spongy and delightful treat doused in rich caramel, it’s miles beyond compare.

Unbelievably, every item on the menu is under $10 – even splurging as we were (an appetizer, three entrees, two beers each) our bill was only $60 – and these dishes are not tiny! An amazing deal for such heavenly fare, and in a great environment to boot. Bar*Food officially has my vote as best new restaurant in L.A. in 2009.

Click here for a profile of Bar*Food’s chef/owner, Jason Killalee.

Bar*Food
12217 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

 

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