The Ultimate Dinner Party : Lazy Bear San Francisco
Over the past few years, my best friend and I decided to celebrate our momentous occasions seeking out unique experiences where we could spend time together and do something that we enjoy. We were fortunate to celebrate Christmas in Chicago seeing the Broadway hit musical, Hamilton, and this year we decided to celebrate our birthdays in San Francisco having dinner at Lazy Bear.
I wasn't terribly familiar with Lazy Bear other than the fact that Bastion (last seen here) is often compared to it in terms of food and vibe, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Of course, that meant that I had to do my research, right?
I'm sure it was hard for David Barzelay to fathom that his invite-only dinner parties would later evolve into one of the most sought out dinner experiences in San Francisco receiving numerous accolades, including two Michelin stars. Picture it 2009, attorney David Barzelay invites several of his closest friends for an over the top dinner experience at his home. Enjoying the cocktails, cuisine, and company, guests were anxiously awaiting their next invitation. As with all good things, the word spread like wildfire and people were coming out of the woodwork trying to secure a spot on one of the most sought-after guest lists in San Francisco. Fast forward six years later. Barzelay has traded in his passion for the law for his penchant of all things culinary. Two Michelin stars and one brick and mortar restaurant later, Lazy Bear has become the ultimate dinner party entertaining guests from across the globe on a nightly basis.
A chef's story is always one that fascinates me and Barzelay's was no different. A lawyer turned chef? I couldn't wait to see what was in store.
Lazy Bear has two nightly seatings, 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are usually sold a month in advance, in the middle of the month, if you want to be specific. If I were you, I'd follow them on Twitter and sign up for their email, as that's the only surefire way not to miss out. As with any sought-after restaurant, tickets go fast, very fast, so have your browser up and your credit card ready.
We purchased tickets for the 6:00 p.m. seating because let's face it.. we aren't getting any younger and 15+ course dinners can certainly take its toll. Receiving instructions to arrive at 5:30 p.m., we arrived ten minutes early only to find ourselves waiting with the other eager guests.
Promptly at 5:30 p.m., the doors opened and we were escorted inside and upstairs. Waiting for the other patrons to arrive, guests were greeted with a delicious punch to pass the time. Naturally, I was going to take photos, but I was captivated by the decor of the restaurant. It was what I would describe as campfire chic and every detail was accounted for.
Once the remaining guests were escorted to the second floor, our journey began.
Guests are served a series of six snacks, each more intriguing than the last.
Whipped Scrambled Eggs + Bacon + Maple + Hot Sauce
Shigoku Oysters + Tomato + Seaweeds
Geoduck + Persian Cucumber + Horseradish
Eggplant Conserva + Goat's Milk Cheese + Chocolate Mint
Buttermilk Melon Soda
Soft-shelled Crab + Avocado + Green Strawberry
I found the Whipped Scrambled Eggs to be reminiscent of a dish that I had Catbird Seat with Chef Josh Habiger. It was almost identical, however, the hot sauce took this snack to a different level.
Of all the snacks, there were two standouts: Whipped Scrambled Eggs and the Buttermilk Melon Soda. While the Whipped Scrambled Eggs were a familiar favorite, I've never had anything like the Buttermilk Melon Soda. It was a combination of flavors that left me wanting more.
Cocktails and conversation were flowing, but we had reached the end of our time upstairs and it was time for the main event. Mara and I snapped a commemorative photo under the bear himself and proceeded downstairs.
Once we snagged two seats, of course you know I had to be close to the action, we introduced ourselves to a new group of friends for the evening. Ironically enough, the guy I sat next to was originally from Memphis. What is it they say? Small world? Indeed.
Making ourselves comfortable, chef welcomed us and stressed the importance of the interactive dining experience. While I was hesitant at first to cross the line into the kitchen, it didn't take much time at all before I was up there before each course conversing with the staff. Truly the highlight of the evening.
By now, you all know it takes a LOT to get me excited about food. But this Spelt And Rye Dinner Roll was by far one of my favorites of the meal. This funky fantastic butter has been six years in the making so you can only imagine the tangy delicious flavors that ensued. OMG.
I fell in love with the next course before it even came to the table. As soon as I saw the word Tomato, this Southern girl was smiling from ear to ear. Although I have to say, I've never had tomatoes quite like this. Isn't it a stunning dish?
As the dishes were cleared from the tomato course, I promptly left my seat and made a beeline towards the kitchen only to find the chefs plating our next course, Grilled Summer Squash.
Whenever I have a dish of this caliber, I always seem to wonder why I can't make vegetables taste this good. But then again, when something is paired with lobster, you can't go wrong.
The next course was by far one of the most decadent of the evening, Smoky Beets served with Bing Cherry, Chicories and Grilled Foie Gras. Is your mouth just watering? I really enjoyed the flavor combination of the beets and cherries against the delicate foie gras. Talk about melt in your mouth!
It should come as no surprise that the next dish was one of the most challenging of the evening. As the chef presented the Mt. Lassen Trout and It's Roe to the guests, I was fascinated as the roe was cured in gin and juice! The dish itself was beautiful with hues of orange and yellow, but it was still a challenge for me to eat.
I've lived in the South my entire life and I can safely say that I've never had grits that taste as good as what we had for our next dish. The chef prepared Fresh Corn Grits with Sweet and Sour Chanterelles. If there was one dish that left me scraping the bottom and secretly wishing for more, it was this one. Words don't even do this one justice.
Concluding our savory courses was Barbecued Rack Of Lamb Served with Morels, Lettuces and Carrot BBQ. This was definitely a crowd favorite.
As the kitchen transitioned to the confectionery creations, I watched as they plated our next bite, Strawberries with Coconut and Rice Pudding. I was quite smitten with the bowls they were using for our next course, but more so I was in awe of these incredibly talented individuals who were bringing each dish to life.
Below you will find out second dessert of the evening because we all know one just isn't enough! This time the kitchen transitioned from the delicate dish of strawberries to something a bit more substantial, Cherries with Black Cocoa, Rye and Sherry.
Of the two desserts, I'd have to say I enjoyed the strawberry dish the best, but then again I am a sucker for all things strawberry and given the fact that coconut was involved, it was a no-brainer.
In an effort to keep our blood sugar at an elevated level, the kitchen prepared these lovely mignardises for each group. Of the four, the standout was clearly the White Peach Gummy Bear, because who doesn't love childhood treats like that!
Dinner at Lazy Bear was such a wonderful way to celebrate. Not only did I spend some QT with my best friend, but I had the chance to connect with some fantastic individuals who are just as enthusiastic about the food and wine scene as I am. Aside from the delicious food, my favorite part of the evening was having the opportunity to interact with those in the kitchen. Learning about their individual backgrounds as well as what they enjoyed about each course was really special.
This is usually the point in the post where I tell you about can't miss and potential dishes to pass on. Given the fact that the menu evolves daily, it would be hard to tell you what to steer clear of and I don't want to get your hopes up for a dish that you may or may not be able to have.
My advice: Go in with an open heart, an open mind, and an empty stomach. I can assure you that you will be satiated on all levels.
Tariff: Dinner Tickets range from $180.00-$205.00/ person depending on the seating. Standard beverage pairings are available for $95.00/person while Reserve Pairings are $145.00/person. If you are unsure of what you might be in the mood for, you can skip that section and make the decision the evening of your meal.
Until Next Time!