Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bäco Mercat

408 S Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

I feel like I have been stalking chef Josef Centeno for years. A huge fan of Meson G (although I seem to be a fan of every restaurant in that Melrose Avenue space including long gone Alex and  current Hatfield's), experienced the flash in the pan that was Lot 1 right by my house, really like the food at wildly popular Lazy Ox, and now Bäco Mercat is my new most favorite place.


A couple weeks back we spent an evening at Bäco (as it's called by the hostess answering the phone) with friends and loved it so much we experienced cravings for the food immediately. We returned this weekend to have a pre-Wilco show meal. Just as good the second time around, maybe better.


The bar guys. The bar guy on the right on the photo has an excellent bartending pedigree, we know him from his days at Grace (is Grace defunked, is it not defunked) and Mozza. He makes a great drink and gives all around excellent service. You can't see his face in the shot, but he sports some excellent facial hair.


This weekend's visit to Bäco saw a change in policy regarding adult beverages. Please see above vodka martini. During the first visit, we were told we could only order cocktails from the cocktail menu. The bar policy (despite having a full bar) was to make market driven cocktails designed to compliment the food. The end. This week we were made twin martinis no questions asked, no explanations needed. They may have had to stray from their initial vision, but this is a big win in the name of customer service in my opinion.


I love okra. My grandmother used to grow her own okra, pick it from the garden, coat it in cornmeal, fry and serve. No okra will ever be better than the okra I had at Grandma's. But this is close. Blistered okra cooked on the grill and served just barely coated in a beautiful red sauce. I inhaled this both visits.


I blame it on the shrimp. This crispy shrimp is one of the reasons I am such a picky bitch. Anytime we visit a small plates focused menu, D jumps in before I get a chance to read the menu and immediately orders whatever catches his eye. By the time there are 10 small plates ordered, we're too far in for me to add my .02. THIS visit I specified, he wasn't allowed to order until I was ready. And I wanted my own food. I wanted this shrimp and I did not want to share. Crispy shrimp with the heads on, lots of lime wedges and a smoked paprika aoili. If I could, I would eat this for breakfast right now. I squeezed lime all over each shrimp to soften whatever the shrimp is coated in (it's very crispy, needs a little softening, especially the head bits). Next I dip in just a tiny bit of the aoili. So good. Soooooooo good.


Mussels in light creamy broth, grilled bread. Mussel perfection.


My favorite flatbread in all of Los Angeles. What j'adore about this flatbread is all the beautiful fresh herbs on top. We ordered this both visits. This is simply "the tomato & cheese", with smoked tomato, jalapeno and basil. But on top after cooking they throw generous branches of dill and cilantro. Just heavenly.

It's close, it's priced reasonably and the food is that perfect mixture of rustic and refined. I wonder if we can go tonight.

Images in this post brought to you by the iPhone and Finger Focus. My Nikon may never leave the house again.


Kristine G said...

I was just going to comment on the awesome photos! And no Nikon? I need this app!

What a perfect meal!

Food, she thought. said... need this app. I will demonstrate it using Lils as a victim in just a couple weeks!