Last night I went to a birthday dinner for the lovely shine at Bolsa. The best things about the restaurant were the bartenders and our waiter Ben, a younger, more handsome, slightly ethnic Henry Thomas. The restaurant was packed when we got there at 7 PM, so we sidled up to the bar to peruse the cocktail menu. They have an extensive list of wine and spirits available. As soon as I saw the Applejack Sazerac I knew I was set. I asked the bartender if I could have a traditional Sazerac (my favorite cocktail!) and off he went. A few seconds later, the bar manager came over and said, "Who wanted the Sazerac?" I raised my hand, "Where have you been all my life?"
He was charming and peppered us with trivia knowledge about the drink and it's origins. "People say I make the best Sazerac this side of New Orleans."
"We'll see, sir," I replied "We'll see."
I was not disappointed- It was delicious!
Once we were all assembled, we took out seats on the patio and set about ordering. Not a small feat I assure you- 16 guests, 2 picnic tables= slightly awkward.
One of the things that impressed me about Bolsa, and a reason I always wanted to go there, is their commitment to local and organic produce. The menu changes daily based on what is available at market that morning. However, when our food finally arrived, I wondered if their idea of organic meant "sans salt". The problem with the dishes is that they are conceived and created as a whole, not as individual components that compliment one another.
I had the good fortune to sit next to my friend Natalie, vegetarian. As I had already consumed enough red meat to last a month, I decided to go in on a veggie plate with her. Our delicious waiter assured us this was "not [his] first time at the rodeo" (love!), and the kitchen would be happy to assemble something for us. What we got was the Twigs & Branch flatbread (arugula, goat cheese, grapes), marscapone polenta, ratatouille, and haricot verts in a salsa verde.
The polenta was bland, which is too often the case, and adding marscapone to it doesn't help. How about a little salt? Maybe some pepper? The green beans were delicious (yum, garlic!), and thank god for the grilled onions in the ratatouille which really helped liven up the flatbread.
I just don't understand a chef who's afraid of salt or seasoning. Our friends who ordered protein fared a bit better, as there was sauce to flavor the polenta and sides. The Braised short rib was delicious, but the risotto that came with it was a bit sad. I've never seen such a uncreamy mess in my life. This is why I don't try to cook it at home, I don't have the chops. Perhaps they should hold off as well. The Coq au Vin looked fantastic. The bruscetta appetizer was hit or miss. The toppings delicious (smoked salmon, apples and honey, prosciutto and figs), but some of the bread was soft, and some crispy. A bit of an execution error there.
I would love to go back to Bolsa for drinks, and I would try the food again but only after looking at the menu ahead of time to see if it was worth it. Regardless of the food, I had a lovely time with my friends and hope to do it again soon. I was totally serious about the girly slumber party!