Monday, November 19, 2012

Baco Mercat @ 408 S. Main St. Los Angeles

Wow...listed in multiple publications as one of the 'Top Ten Best New America's Restaurants', as well as located in the every most food trending DTLA, I knew I had to go and check it out- it was the first stop on my gastronomical tour of glutton and excess..

Located in the Downtown Historic Bank District,  Baco Mercat has snatched some major primo real estate for it's digs; huge twenty foot high windows with an illustrious renovated interior, it oozes portent and delirious hipster vibe,  (cue to the tall, lanky, dandy dad in shades, feeding his baby micro greens with one hand and galaxy tableting in the other.....)   this is gonna be fun....

With numerous accolades as well as a helluva personal bio to boot; Chef Josef Centro has created for himself a culinary niche that satisfies the needs of lost angels without diluted compromise.  The signature dish the 'Baco': a cross between a flatbread, naan with a taco configuration, it's a sandwich filled with the exotic ingredient combination of a midnight market street vendor and a farmer's market stall in Union Square; it's perfect for this melting pot of a city and fitting to the theme of Mex-Mideast.

On this menu, (which is relatively extensive and alluring) there's one thing that I could not pass on, the Spaghetti Squash + Creamed Corn.  Tempting both my immediate addiction for Fall food (Kabocha, Squash to name a few)  and....well...Corn, it was the perfect appetizer for this weary traveler.

What I enjoyed most about this was in it's unexpectedness;  there was an element of sophistication in it's clean flavor profile.  The Squash had a perfect consistency, the texture of elongated cells filled with liquid that burst with the slightest pressure of your mouth, along with the essence of maize, invisible yet robust with the silky creamy sensation without a lactose presence.  A mild punch came from the condiments, freshly grated Cheese with Toasted Parmesan Crumbles, Chives and a hint of Lemon Zest enriching this relatively clean and refined, humble dish....piping hot and with the soul of comfort food, it warms and reenergizes the it. 

Getting the Baco was a must and I ordered the Beef Tongue Schnitzel: an unusual offal in the Austrian breaded and fried tradition with Greens Red Onion, Sour Pickles, Smoked Aoli and Harissa.  The bread was 'OMG' amazing, I should have ordered the Za'atar & Sumac Lebni starter (Baco Bread +Pecorino + Olive Oil) had I known it was this changer...

But back to the sandwich, the fried breaded Tongue was on par in terms of texture, it's a subtle protein in that relies on the balance of the other ingredients; it predominated when you came across it's gelatinous regions, the breading complimented it to a degree.

The Harissa/ Smoked Aoli dominated the sandwich, I would have liked to have had half the amount so I could tasted all the components, (as well, it was a really messy sandwich to consume).  There were highlights of Red Onion and Pickles here and there which were treasures, but ultimately, the condiment was overpowering and drenched the dish. I deconstructed the sandwich and ate each piece by itself for a balanced taste.  Only then, could I appreciate the composition and the work of the Kitchen.

I was ready to walk away and escape from the evil temptress that which is called Dessert, but unfortunately, the mind is weak:  The Pecan Panna Cotta would be the undoing of months at the gym in one fell swoop.

But I didn't care, because it was one of brighter highlights of the meal:  A double layer of Pecan and Cream that is rich and decadent, a prefect balance of Bourbon Caramel , with crunchy sweet nutty spheres on top and Homemade Whipped Cream, it's a dessert worth breaking your diet for!

The atmosphere alone is worth coming to this downtown venue, I loved the interior and admire the way DTLA is evolving to encompass an urban fabric which of course, reminds me of another hometown...  I will be back to try the other offerings, especially another Baco, I think I could get on board that trend.

B├Ąco Mercat on UrbanspoonRatings (Out of Five Stars)
Food:           3
Ambience:   4
Service:       3.5