First Look: Lazy Bear's Incredible & Intimate Fine Dining Party Experience at New Brick & Mortar Location - Lazy Bear Review

Lazy Bear SF - Collage

There's no other restaurant that I feel more excited about right now than Lazy Bear, a unique fine dining dinner party with a focus on modern American cuisine that's full of wonderful daring surprises. I heard about Lazy Bear when they first began five years ago, but it wasn't until this year that I've been trying to attend San Francisco's hottest pop-up without any success due to their rising popularity. 

I was fortunate to receive an invite to attend a media preview dinner to check out their new permanent brick and mortar spot located at 3416 19th Street, Mission (formerly the location of Hi-Lo BBQ), before it opens on Thursday, 9/25. Patrick and I had our minds blown away with the level of passion and involvement across the board with the food and cooks. 

Lazy Bear SF - Brick and Mortar - Elm Slab Tables

They released dinner tickets late last week on their website and sixteen servers crashed unable to handle the high demand and traffic, resulting in only two tickets sold because the payment system broke down as told to us by Chef David Barzelay. Tickets were up for sale again on 9/22 to be sold out in a matter of minutes. Luckily, we were able to score a pair of tickets to dine there during the first two weeks upon opening - we cannot wait to do it all over again. 

The Team

The commanding team is comprised of Owner-Chef David Barzelay and Sous Chef Jaret Ferguson. Maya Erickson (formerly of AQ) is the pastry chef, Marie-Louise Friedland (formerly of Uchi and Quince) is the sommelier and the bar manager is Brandon Presbury (formerly of Locanda and Bartlett Hall). 

How it Works

Lazy Bear serves one menu each night, a tasting menu of 11+ courses, in two seatings: 6pm and 8:15pm. The communal seating takes place at two beautiful 22-foot long American elm slab tables. The entire dining room is served each course at the same time, and cooks come out and describe the dishes. Unlike an a la carte restaurant that takes walk-in customers and has lots of menu items from which to choose, Lazy Bear is a social experience that depends on a packed house to create an energetic vibe. By requiring pre-purchase of tickets, they are able to minimize the frequency of no-shows, and ensure to create the best possible dining experience.

The Experience

Opal Basil Punch: Pineapple, Rye, Limes, Dolin Dry Vermouth

Opal Basil Punch: Pineapple, Rye, Limes, Dolin Dry Vermouth

Each event begins upstairs with cocktail hour, where punch is served and tasty amuse-bouches are passed around. You can expect to interact and mingle with Chef Barzelay during the cocktail hour and when dinner is complete. If you are an introvert like me, you may cringe at the thought of mingling with people you don't know. While you do have the option to keep to yourself, you may find it is actually quite easy to pick up a conversation with the people sitting next to you once the food is served. The whole idea is building a conversation around what's on your plate, while enjoying some of the most incredible food you'll ever consume. 

The upstairs lounge is intimate and comfortable, like hanging out at a friend's place. 

The upstairs lounge is intimate and comfortable, like hanging out at a friend's place. 

The Food

You get a true farm-to-table experience presented in a beautiful way that highlights the star of the dish. You'll know exactly where everything on your plate is sourced from to the details on how it was prepared. They even give you a cute little menu book with a miniature pencil to jot notes down in. Here's a recap of everything we had during the preview dinner:

Snacks

Lazy Bear SF - Whipped Scrambled Eggs
Lazy Bear SF - Whipped Scrambled Eggs

The first snack of the night - whipped scrambled eggs infused with bacon and maple syrup. The egg texture is creamy and rich. I loved the flavor combination of smokey and sweet. I'm inspired to recreate something similar for breakfast.  

Lazy Bear SF - Tomato Water Gelee Oyster

The most unusual dish served was the tomato water gelee with oysters. I was surprised to find that the tomato's acidity and the oysters work really well together. The gelee's texture and taste almost resembled the oyster we ate. It was a lovely dish. 

Lazy Bear SF - Plum and Liver Mousse

The plum topped with liver mousse made for a nice little rich bite. I enjoyed the balance between the sweet, tart, and creamy components. 

Lazy Bear SF - Corn Custard with Caviar

Our favorite snack of the night was the corn custard with white American sturgeon caviar and chive blossoms. We both instantly fell in love with the rich corn custard and mild flavored caviar. Because of this dish, we may begin to form an expensive addiction to caviar. 

Lazy Bear SF - Tomatillo

I loved the tomatillo milpero with caramelized onions, creme fraiche, beef jerky and shaved radish. There's so much happening in one bite in a very pleasant way; it's like a flavor bomb exploded in my mouth. 

Tasting Menu

Lazy Bear SF - Bay Laurel Molasses Bread
Lazy Bear SF - Cultured Butter and Buttermilk

This is what they call butter, curds and whey. You break a piece of the bay laurel and molasses bread and dip it into the buttermilk and cultured butter - it was tangy, creamy, and salty. 

Lazy Bear SF - Grape

The only cocktail I had during dinner was the concord grape sour with lemon verbana, tequila, lemon and egg whites. It tasted exactly like how it sounds, almost resembles a tart pisco sour.

Lazy Bear SF - Chilled Lettuce Soup

This chilled lettuce soup with little gems, summer squash, fried anchovy, and parsley was unique - and tastes exactly like how it sounds. I wouldn't mind eating this kind of salad every day.

Lazy Bear SF - Delta Crawfish

Everyone in our area loved the Antioch Delta crawfish with cucumber, rice grits, and celery topped with purslane. The cucumbers were pickled and braised. They took the crawfish shells and made a bisque out of it. It was like comfort in bowl. 

Lazy Bear SF - Guinea Hen

The guinea hen with butter beans, roasted lobster mushrooms, and fine herbs in a hen jus was delicious. The butter beans were blanched and had almost a peanut-like texture.

Lazy Bear SF - Seared Beef Sirloin and Sungolds

Each of the sungolds you see were peeled one by one, hydrated and seared in beef fat, resulting in an intense deep sweet tomato flavor. The smoked beef strip loin, basil, amaranth, tomato raisins were a beautiful combination. The strip loin is from Marin Sun Farms, cured, smoked and sou vide the rest of the way. 

Lazy Bear SF - Ginger Milk Curd

This dish reminded me of a Vietnamese silken tofu ginger-syrup dessert. The ginger milk curd with pluot consomme gelée, shiso and mint was bright, sweet, savory, and had a good amount of heat from the ginger. The melon ball plums were compressed in lemon verbana juice.

Lazy Bear SF - Dessert

Our dinner concludes with a board of five different types of desserts made by Pastry Chef Maya Erickson: frozen s'mores, pear and scotch, concord grape and peanut butter mousse meringues, salted caramels and green Chartreuse macarons. The desserts blew us away. It was a perfect way to end our incredible meal. 


Price

The tasting menu is $120/person plus tax for 11+ courses. Beverage pairings are available at an additional $50. They automatically add a 20% service charge when purchasing a ticket (and on any purchases you make at the restaurant). 


Final Thoughts

Lazy Bear changes the notion of what a tasting menu can be with the intimate level of involvement by the cooks. The attention to detail is impressive and all of the dishes served tasted incredible.

While our dinner was complimentary, it goes without saying that we jumped at the opportunity to buy tickets immediately when they were released online because there's no other dining experience like it. 

Thanks for dinner, Lazy Bear! 

Lazy Bear SF - End of Dinner

Visiting Lazy Bear

Location

3416 19th St San Francisco, CA 94110

Website

lazybearsf.com

Phone

415-874-9921

Hours

Thursday- Monday: 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. with ticketed reservations only.

Lazy Bear on Urbanspoon

Dine on Time: Win a Cooking Class and Dinner for 6 with Chef Martin Yan

Bowl of Noodles - MY China

Martin Yan is Everywhere!

Martin Yan

I grew up watching Martin Yan on television with my mom, so Chef Yan has a soft spot in my heart. It wasn't until I had a delicious feast at M.Y. China a few months ago that I started noticing Martin Yan everywhere. I saw photos of him on my Instagram feed posing with people that I'm friends with. He made many appearances at well-known food events and he was all over the internet on blogs and publications that I frequented. The weird and cool part is he was in Emeryville often, just a few blocks away from my home, filming Taste of Vietnam - and on a related note, I recently made a new friend named Rachel, who worked with Yan on the show during pre/production

In May, I teamed up with Sorabol and Westfield SF to create an exclusive dish that can only be ordered on Dine on Time, Westfield's new food ordering app.

If you haven't tried my (really good) Spring Mix Noodle Salad with Grilled Shrimp dish yet, now may be a good chance to check it out because you could win a cooking class and dinner with Chef Martin Yan simply by ordering some food for yourself. 

Each order made through Dine on Time will guarantee one entry into the sweepstakes. As a bonus, users who order from M.Y. China using Westfield Dine on Time during this timeframe will receive two entries per order. The sweepstakes runs through Monday, October 6, 2014.

Happy eating and good luck! There's a good chance you may run into me during lunch. 


Media Tasting Event: Chef Tim Luym (The Attic) Creates Unique Dishes with Pulmuone & Wildwood Organic Food Products

Can you imagine freezing tofu and deep frying it to be used as a substitute for tortilla chips? How about making a creamy mushroom soup using tofu instead of cream? Or using tofu as a ricotta cheese substitute? 

Last month, I attended a pop-up media tasting event with Christina of East Bay Dish and Grace of San Francisco Food for Pulmuone USA and Wildwood Organic Food, an all-natural food products company headquartered in Fullerton, California.

Chef Tim Luym of The Attic in San Mateo was put up to the challenge of using Pulmuone and Wildwood products, such as meatless crumbles, chicken patties and tofu, and transforming them into tasty dishes that can be made by anyone at home. Let me tell you that he is one hell of a inspiring chef. The 11 dishes he made take not only creativity, but skills to make the flavors work well together. 

Patrick Lemoine, President of Pulmuone Foods USA, welcoming all the guests. 

Patrick Lemoine, President of Pulmuone Foods USA, welcoming all the guests. 

Chef Tim Luym walking us through how to cook "cream" of mushroom soup without cream. 

Chef Tim Luym walking us through how to cook "cream" of mushroom soup without cream. 


The Food

Chicken Katsu Burger - Pulmuone

Katsu Slider Sandwich with Miso Yuzu Tofu Mayo

The crispy and breaded teriyaki chicken-protein patty (Fit Patties) was juicy, tender, and flavorful. The yuzu cole slaw had a nice citrus taste, crisp and refreshing. 


Onederful "Cream" of Mushroom Soup - Pulmuone

Onederful "Cream" of Mushroom Soup

While nothing can replace cream, an interesting substitute is blending in tofu to the mix. In this mushroom soup, it worked really well and is pretty tasty. It's a bit more grainy and earthy in comparison to an actual cream base soup. I can see this working well with other puree type soups, like butternut squash. 


Lasagna - Pulmuone

Gluten & Dairy Free Bechamel and Vegetarian Lasagna

Tim made a basic lasagna, using Onederful Tofu as a ricotta cheese substitute, Wildwood Meatless Crumbles to replace meat, and rice noodles instead of lasagna pasta. It was made so well that you couldn't even tell that there was no meat in it. I didn't even notice the difference in noodles. If you're looking for a vegetarian option, this may be worth making. 


Chilaquiles - Pulmuone

Chilaquiles 

Of all the tastings, this was my favorite of the night.  Everyone was amazed at the different ways Wildwood products were being used in every component. Chef Tim Luym turned Onederful Tofu into crunchy chips by freezing it and frying it. The "refried black beans" were actually Wildwood Black Lentil SpreaDip. The "eggs" were made of their firm waterpack tofu and the "meat" was made with Mexican-inspired Wildwood Meatless Crumbles.


Eggless "Chawan Mushi" - Pulmuone

Eggless "Chawan Mushi"

While this was the most beautifully presented dish, I wasn't a fan of the egg foam-like taste or texture made using Onederful Tofu. I've never had anything like this before, so I'm not sure how it's supposed to really taste.


Shrimp Wonton Soup - Pulmuone

Shrimp Wonton Soup

The wonton soup was done nicely. The broth was flavorful and clean, the Wildwood Onederful Tofu was delightful and firm, and the wonton dumpling, filled with shrimp and Wildwood Meatless Meatballs, was tasty. 


Asian Appetizers - Pulmuone

Mandu Dumplings with Kimchee X.O. Sauce

The "meat"-filled dumpling was made with Monterey Gourmet Foods Chicken Mandu Dumplings and Wildwood Flavored Tofu (Szechuan). 

Char Siu BBQ Pork Chow Faux Fun

This unique little bite resembled a steamed rice roll filled with bbq pork, a dish you can typically find at a dim sum restaurant.  The "char siu" was made using Wildwood Flavored Tofu (Mongolian), cooked in ketchup, hoisin, shao xing rice wine, and five spice. 

Pork Free Vietnamese Egg Rolls

This was my favorite item of all three options on the plate. The Vietnamese flavors were represented nicely using Wildwood Shiitake Burger and Wildwood Flavored Tofu (Indian Curry). The roll was very crispy and was accompanied by a vegetarian nuoc cham dipping sauce. 


Onederful Ma Po Tofu - Pulmuone

Onederful Ma Po Tofu

This dish was made using a combination of Wildwood Onederful Tofu and Meatless Crumbles (Italian-inspired). I wasn't a fan of how the meatless crumbles were used in this because the Italian herbs were a bit overpowering.


Purple Yam Tapioca with Bread Pudding - Pulmuone

Ube "Purple Yam" Tapioca with Bread Pudding

The last dish served for the night was this wonderful Filipino-inspired sweet bread pudding. I loved the doughy-texture and the ube flavor. The coconut cream is wonderful and simply made using Wildwood Soymilk, Wildwood Onederful Tofu, coconut, ube powder, tapioca pearls and sugar. You can bet that I'll be making these at home! 


Final Thoughts

Chef Tim Luym did a great job of highlighting these products in a simple yet inspiring way. While I left the event still slightly hungry, I was happy to gain all this new knowledge to incorporate in my own kitchen at home. Now that I have been introduced to Pulmuone and Wildwood, I am really excited to try out more of their products. 

Pulmuone sent me about 30 lbs worth of food to cook with, so I'll be spending the next few weeks reviewing their products and making tasty dishes with what they've given me. I'll be sure to share some of the successful recipes, so stay tuned.

Thanks for the "Onederful" products and for having me at the tasting event, Pulmuone!