Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Baker & Banker

I'd had Baker & Banker on my restaurants list for awhile, so when my friend said she wanted to go, I told her to pick a date and I'd be there. We went on a rainy Friday; I'd booked an 8pm reservation because I knew traffic would be crazy, and we left my house at 7pm, but we still barely made it after spending 25 minutes between the Cesar Chavez and Bay Bridge exits.

The restaurant was cute but dark, so my photos are pretty bad. I'll include them anyway for the sake of illustration. We were a party of three, so we were given a nice corner booth.

The prix fixe was 65, which was an okay deal for four courses, but the wine pairing was only 35, which seemed like a good deal, so we decided to go for it. (Starters were 10-15, entrees were 20-30, and desserts were 8.)

First up was an amuse bouche which looked like a tiny cream puff, but was filled with something cheesy, with a savory/salty sauce. I've forgotten exactly what it was but it was tasty.

The first starter was a duck confit with a delicious coleslaw-like salad, topped with hazelnuts and apple cider vinaigrette. I think this was my favorite dish; the confit wasn't too salty, nor the vinaigrette too sour, and overall it tasted way better and more interesting than it sounded, so it was a pleasant surprise.

Next was a shellfish risotto, topped with fried shallots and cilantro oil. I liked this too; the seafood flavor was quite strong and there were nice juicy bits of shellfish in the risotto. I couldn't really tell that there was cilantro in it, though.

The entree was a wagyu beef with oxtail croutons. The croutons were clever, and overall I enjoyed the dish, but I felt that it was the least creative of the three savory dishes, although well-executed.

At this point we were served a generous portion of passionfruit sorbet. Not much to say, it cleansed the palate.

The dessert was described as a "vanilla cheesecake" which did not sound interesting at all, so I was surprised that it came liberally topped with caramel sauce, with a thick layer of crumbly cake underneath:

It was better than what I'd been expecting, but I liked the savory dishes more.

Overall we had a very pleasant evening; the food was yummy, service was good, the wine pours were generous (almost too generous!), and we were excited to spot both Lori Baker and Jeffrey Banker circling the dining room interacting with diners. I'd recommend a visit.

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