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Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Subtle Perfections Are Evident At Baker & Banker

A week ago my friend Steve was visiting from Pasadena. We made plans to hang out and grab dinner. I had heard great things about Baker & Banker up in the Pacific Heights area.  And we really did enjoy our visit. The food, the service, the ambiance is all here on Octavia Street. I felt a little out-of-place because of my attire.  I chose the comfortable look with a T-Shirt and jeans.  But, so what, it is after all, California. And they still welcomed us with open arms.

Upon arrival in the dining room, Chef Lori recognized me right away.  She was so nice and immediately offered us glasses of Francois Pinon Vouvray Petillant "Non-Dose" (2008) to sip while they got our table together.  We ordered another round after we sat down and placed our order.

The Grilled octopus salad, yellow watermelon, spicy Asian vinaigrette, sea beans just seemed too good to pass up. It was quite something.  The elegant octopus was so delicious alongside that fruit and the spice was just the right amount.  It was one of those remarkable dishes that stays with you.  The Sparkles paired incredibly well with it too.

Lori makes the most amazing bread that goes in their Bread baskets.  I should know, I ordered 2 more baskets after the initial one. And if you want to go after my heart, that's the secret. Bread is life, it warms you. It is so satisfying when done well.

I continued to warm up with a glass of Von Simmern Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling (2007).   At this point the Soy and mirin braised black cod had arrived.  The texture of the fish was truly a masterpiece.  I had a chance to mention it when Lori's husband came around to check on us. Jeff was so gracious too, as I mentioned how in love I was with his foie gras-shitake sticky rice.  I traded bites of my dish for Steve's Housemade pappardelle, wild mushrooms, summer squash, roasted ricotta salata and fresh mint.  No wonder it got all silent during our main courses.  We were under the spell and the flavors were bursting and leaving their mark.

The seduction reached it's max as we moved into dessert.  Once again, Lori took charge and we not only got the PB&J but the crisp as well.  The PB& J was her strawberry jam filled doughnuts with the most decadent peanut butter dipping sauce. The crisp was made with Nectarine and plum , brown sugar-pecan streusel and blueberry swirl ice cream.  Both nearly blew us out of our chairs.  We were childlike and competitive when it came to sticking our forks and spoons.  The whole meal was a work of art.  I felt spoiled and delighted all at the same time.  I look forward to going back to the bakery they are just opening next door!

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