I am ambivalent about social media culture. We joke about people taking photos of their food just for the ‘Gram, but when a restaurant concept caters to the phenomenon, I feel icky.
But I could be wrong and perhaps the many invitations to take photos was just Lazy Bear being welcoming and casual, and it’s not necessarily part of the restaurant concept.
The concept was actually DINNER PARTY. Coming here was a surprise gift to me, so I was ill-prepared to be surrounded by this many people.
The recurring theme of the meal was fruit + savory, which is my pet peeve. I hate duck à l’orange, apples with pork chops are seldom well done and fresh grapes in any hot, savory entrée is just. wrong. So I did my best to put aside my disgust and judge each dish on the basis of seasoning, balance and success of execution.
When you enter at your reservation time, you’ll be swept upstairs into a woodsy-themed gallery for champagne, aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres. I enjoyed a light punch, champagne and beautiful madeira that was far from overly cloying—my only regret of the evening was not taking a photo of the bottle!
Whipped scrambled eggs in a tall shot glass was touched with bacon, maple and chives. Crab was mixed with cauliflower (interesting!) and lardo (ineffective), and spread on toasted sourdough (unremarkable). Interestingly seared Hokkaido scallop came with housemade XO-inspired sauce that lacked the punch of the original, but was good and didn’t overwhelm the sweet scallop flavor. Crispy hen-of-the-woods mushrooms were tempura’d, which predictably tasted like the batter and not at all like mushrooms.
For the main event, you’ll be led downstairs to your seat at one of two communal tables. The place-setting comprised of a gorgeous knife and a little “field guide”-inspired book for taking notes—and take copious notes I did.
The third recurring theme (the first fruit + savory, the second woodsy decor) was SALT. So. Much. Salt. My second-favorite part of the meal was the spelt and rye dinner roll with house-cultured butter and it was all very salty. I would absolutely eat it again, but would need to bring my own jam to balance it out.
A composed bite of the trout, roe and soggy “crispy” rice lacked depth, but was thankfully saved by the wine pairing, which added much-needed complexity. Roasted sunchoke was well prepared, but already salt and made worse by the caviar. It is possible to worsen the situation with caviar.
My favorite part of the meal was the sous-vide egg yolk, which was perfectly fudgy and amazing with the ham and barley broth. This would have been perfect if the apples had been fresh-chopped apples and there was actual barley in the broth—this, I would eat for breakfast as frequently as possible! LAZY BEAR, GET ON THIS.
The seared bass had a fabulously crispy skin, but the flesh was strangely lukewarm and tough. And the paired wine tasted like fermented toilet cleaner—you know what I’m talking about, right?? It’s not a rare thing.
As for the duck, props for the long ordeal and many processes that the bird had gone through before even hitting the stove. Unfortunately, the flesh was a second or two away from being too dry. And thankfully, the kumquat and sauce had the right amount of sweetness to keep this discerning diner from stabbing the table with the knife.
The rhubarb dessert was perfect! Great balance of herby sorrel and sweetness/tartness of the rhubarb. I adore contrasting textures in a dish and this was executed well. As for the donut, its texture was between cakey and yeasty. It was decadent without being overwhelming. I thought the entire thing was excellent until I discovered the chocolate and cranberry sauces hiding behind that pale yellow cremeux. I was this close to giving props to Lazy Bear for leaving chocolate out of the experience.
As an adventurous diner, I am instinctively drawn to unfamiliar ingredients and unusual creations. The “Forager’s Wild Tisane” was the obvious choice among the teas and coffees. So good! The little teapot stuffed with rosemary, mint, sage, allesium, green peppercorn, juniper and others, came with a tiny three-minute hourglass.
The sweet treats were passable. A carrot-orange gummy bear (more orange than carrot), a yummy little banana bread (topped with crunchy sugar crystals), an unremarkable pistachio macaroon with white chocolate cream (snoozefest) and an almond-milk chocolate gold almond nugget that was delightfully peppery with pink peppercorn.
THE VERDICT: If you like people, if you like a lively atmosphere, if you like interacting with people, if you love dinner parties, Lazy Bear is for you. If you love interacting with the kitchen, Lazy Bear is for you. If you love long tasting menus and California cuisine, Lazy Bear is for you. Would I go back to Lazy Bear? No. But it’s a super-fun place with the right people and the right mood.
- Premier Cru Champagne
A. Margaine “Le Brut,” Vallee de la Marne MV
- Basque Cidre
Astarbe Sagardotegia, Astigarraga MV
- Gruner Veltliner
Prager “Hinter der Burg,” Wachau 2016
- Rainwater Madeira
Rare Wine Co. “Baltimore Rainwater,” Portugal NV
Andrea Occhipinti “Alea Viva,” Lazio 2015
Alvaro Palacios “Les Terrasses” Velles Vinyes, Catalonia 2015
- Single Vineyard Moscato d’Asti
La Spinetta “Biancospino,” Piedmont 2017
- Barolo Chinato