BIX, San Francisco

I’ve been meaning to go to BIX for a long time. Somehow, it took me months to work it out. But there I was, finally, back in the 1930’s. The Jackson square restaurant has a beautiful dining room, a supper club atmosphere complete with high ceilings, mezzanine and a long bar that begs for a martini and a bow tie.

We sit at our table, the place is still somewhat empty. There’s a couple of habitués enjoying early dinner at their table of choice. I notice an old man, probably in his late 70s, walking slowly across the room in our direction. He stops a few feet from our table and sits where he probably sat everyday for the past several years, the piano. As he begins to play, one of the old time patrons walks towards the piano and sits next to him. His arm around the pianist shoulder, as they seemed to catch up on the day’s events.

Everything at BIX feels like this, real, authentic. A very private club that is nice enough to let you in. Service is exceptional, from the impeccable attire to the great attention given with an honest smile. Nothing feels fake.

The menu

I can’t say I was impressed by the menu inventiveness but, like the rest, it felt authentic and well balanced. A classic French/American brasserie fare with a subtle Californian flair. On the top of the page, called out like a house specialty, was the tableside prepared steak tartar. You can’t say no to that.

The meal

To start, I ordered the Truffle Cheese and Sweet Onion “Croques”. And what a great start. The little grilled cheese bite sized appetizers were to die for. A tough act to follow.

Being an enthusiast cook, I love tableside preparations. The tartar ingredients came neatly displayed on a plate and the preparation was flawless, like it had been rehearsed right before the performance (or more like done before innumerous times). The hand cut beef was great in texture but I’d say lacked a bit of taste. A few drops of Worcestershire sauce if you ask me.

As a main course, I went with the waiter’s suggestion: Grilled Hill Ranch Pork Chop with Twice Roasted Potatoes Dino Kale and Fuji Apple Chutney. The dish was as big as its name on the menu. The pork was well cooked and flavorful but unfortunately the twice-roasted potatoes really meant overcooked. They were mushy and bland. The apple chutney was good but a bit overpowering. Overall, not bad but not something that left me wanting more.

For dessert, I had the El Rey Milk Chocolate Semifreddo Dark Chocolate Shell, Citrus Salad. I admittedly have a sweet tooth, nothing wrong with that, but I have to say it was too sweet, even for me. Again, not bad, but could have been more delicate.

In short

Bix is definitely a worth experience for the atmosphere and service. The food is somewhat expected and heavy. It’s a good choice if you are in the mood for good comfort food but don’t expect nouvelle cuisine, that wasn’t around in the 1930s.

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