Bar Blanc (closed)

by Susan on May 6, 2008

[Food:3.5/5]

If someone read you a sampling from Bar Blanc’s menu and asked you to guess its origin, you’d likely offer a list of West Village dining favorites. At first listen, the food sounds familiar. There’s a Boston Baby Lettuce Salad as well as Organic Greens in the handful of appetizers. A Striped Bass and an Organic Chicken Breast are part of the dozen-long list of entrees. And there are of course, the requisite side dishes. But if you look closer and take the time to examine the details, Bar Blanc starts to look, feel, and taste a little different.

Much has been written about the semantic trend of including the word “bar” in a restaurant’s name and enough of them have popped up in recent months to warrant some pause (Bar Q, Bar Milano, Bar Boulud just to name a few). It is hard to believe the claims of those who find the word misleading. Does anyone really stumble into any of these highly anticipated NYC up-and-comers thinking they’re in for a night of drinking and greasy finger food? To me, the word implies a more relaxed, cooler atmosphere, but not a place where the food has excuses.

The long and narrow, West Village space bustles with a hip clientele who match the modern-meets-retro interior design. White leather banquettes and a gleaming white marble bar top are the highlights and the focus of the namesake. The tables are packed in and it can get a bit loud, but you’re at a bar, what else were you expecting?

The co-owners and Chef Cesar Ramirez all met while working at Bouley where Ramirez was clearly paying attention. His dishes demonstrate great thought and attention to detail. There wasn’t a dish we didn’t enjoy.

My misconceptions of our server’s youthful inexperience were proven wrong. He was both helpful and attentive. My husband, who deemed the moderately sized wine list to be “fun,” spent a great deal of time chatting with the well-informed and patient sommelier.

Word play carries over to the menu where many of the dishes are named with too much fanfare and their descriptions include the tiniest of details. Beware: if you order a dish because it promises Baby Leek Broth or Squid Ink, you will likely be disappointed at their minimal contribution.

Our appetizers were elegant and tasty. A silky sauce of pickled onions and mustard seeds complemented the delicate Hawaiian Kampachi Sashimi beautifully. The Pan Seared Jumbo Scallop was jazzed up with pork belly and broccoli puree.

An entrée of pig prepared three ways graces the menu as Roast Milk Fed Porcelet. If you can look past the emasculating description and order this pork trio, you’ll be pleased. The glazed pork belly portion is phenomenal, though the Morel Puree too finicky for the hearty dish.

A generous filet of Seared Black Cod in a Saffron Mussel Sauce had intense flavor and good texture. The fish, draped over spinach, made for the loveliest presentation on the table.

The last item listed on the menu screamed for locavore approval: Whole Roasted Free Range Organic Squab. Thankfully the taste of the well-prepared bird and its accompanying sugar snap peas and carrots erased its mouthful of a name, which ironically in trying to explain too much, explained very little. These days, phrases like organic and free range are thrown about so frequently and irresponsibly, they’ve come to mean nothing. But that’s just semantics.

Lucky for Bar Blanc, flavor and taste triumph over words.

Bar Blanc
www.barblanc.com
142 West 10th Street
New York, NY 10014
212.255.2330

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