Bar Agricole, San Francisco

Bar Agricole is located in the soon to be fully gentrified border of SoMa and Mission districts. Only a few steps from the brand new Una Pizza Napoletana and San Francisco’s notorious biker hangout, Eagle Tavern. The somewhat unpopular spot has its advantages—for you, parking is a breeze and, for the restaurant, space is abundant.

Outside, a large modern patio offers a welcoming area for cocktail-fueled nights out. Step inside and you’ll be surprised by a sweeping space not normally found in the city.

The entire right side wall is covered by offset wood planks creating a modern yet warm texture reminiscent of elongated fish scales. Oversized chandeliers made of bent glass tubes cut through the wood in what looks like delicate tentacles of jellyfish blown by subtle underwater current. The effect is breathtaking.

Exposed concrete walls and glass windows bring an industrial feel to the split-level space. On the way to the kitchen, a smaller room serves as a quieter hideout from the buzz upstairs.

In total, the restaurant sits about 160 people but the highest number of patrons per square foot will always be found happily standing by the bar where a variety of inventive cocktails are the main attraction.

The menu

Self proclaimed as a “Modern urban tavern”, Bar Agricole’s menu is simple and direct to the point. A single list of dishes described only by their main ingredients, not classified in appetizers or mains. Prices are the only indication of portions sizes. Sharing is encouraged. The selection changes daily based on seasonal ingredients and includes 6 antipasti ($5 to $8), 12 dishes ($11 to $28) a cheese plate ($15) and 3 desserts ($9).

The meal

Chef’s Brandon Jew’s food is good and simple. Another very San Francisco example of farm-to-table cuisine. And maybe for that very reason it doesn't surprise. I liked everything I ate but can’t say anything I had would make me go back.

Chopped liver on toast. Glazed with calvados, enriched with butter, topped with delicate slices of shallots and served with frisée and watercress salad. I’m a big sucker for chicken liver and rarely will pass on it if I see it on the menu. Bar Agricole’s is good, with the creamy texture of a pâté but lacks the rich, deep flavors of the ones served at Range and Frances.

Puntarelle with romanesco broccoli & bagna càuda. A refreshing interplay of textures from the fresh vegetables, topped with cured anchovies. A nice to way to start a meal.

Nettle and Jerusalem artichoke soup. Like a bowl of fall harvest with the earthy sunchoke and the bright, almost wheatgrass-like, flavor of nettles.

Sea bass with fingerling, chanterelles and savoy cabbage. Perfectly cooked with a nice combination of flavors.

Lamb ragu over creamy polenta. The polenta here is delicate and indeed creamy, accented with Parmesan cheese and fried sage leaves. The lamb is beautifully cooked and not gamy but the ragu itself is maybe too delicate, lacking the richness of a sauce to bind it together.

If like me you have a sweet tooth, you may consider skipping desserts. They are good but not quite the satisfying type.

Sweet potato tart with crème fraîche. Spiced delicately with thanksgiving flavors but lacking the sweetness I crave.

Apple & huckleberry galette with chèvre. Slightly dry and somewhat boring. But again, I have a sweet tooth that tends to side with richer, more filling desserts.

In short

Bar Agricole is worth going for its beautiful space—a refreshing addition to a city that has many restaurants uniquely focused on their food. Go for a drink, try one of their coveted cocktails and if you’re hungry, get a table, the food may not be memorable but it certainly won’t disappoint.

Bar Agricole is at 355 11th street
Online reservations


J squared said...

Great job describing the decor and the food menu..... but I can't help but feel you really missed the whole idea.
This is one of the most inventive cocktail-wine-food combinations in the country.
How could you review BAR Agricole without going into some detail about the stunning craft cocktails,
did you even have one?!!!
Or how about the refreshing take on the wine list? ...offering 3-6 bottles each from profoof a myriad of biodynamic producers, something diners rarely see...

I have to say that this review was perplexing to say the least

really expected more from a wonderful blog

J squared said...


Anonymous said...

Just for the record, those bent tubes are not acrylic...they are glass, custom formed in a very large kiln. See for more info on the local SF glass sculpture outfit that made them. Click on a picture of the installation and you'll get a slideshow of how they were made and installed.