Walking along California Street toward the Ferry Building is always an experience. We were on our way to Bouli Bar
Tourists fill the streets this time of year bringing with them a festive air of being on vacation. On this particular day, the sun was shining, the temperature was hot for San Francisco, and smiles were everywhere.
There is a lot of construction near the Ferry Building so as we took a detour through Justin Herman Plaza we came across La Chiffonniere, a sculpture made of curved stainless steel and epoxy by Jean Dubuffet.
We arrived slightly late because of the detour, but it didn’t seem to matter which was good for us.
After a brief wait, they had our reservation and they seated us near the pizza oven. A curtain of long strands of brass beads separated the dining area. My friend Maria commented the curtain was custom made and very expensive. A quick look around revealed a Mediterranean theme – beaten brass lamp shades, and very minimalist tables and chairs. Even the exterior of the menu had a minimalist theme.
After being seated, the server came by and asked us if we wanted still or sparkling water. We opted for both, and our water glasses were discretely filled during our meal.
Prior to coming to Bouli Bar, I did a quick check of their website and noticed that most of the images on the site were blurry. So here is my nod to the blurry image theme of their website.
The menu offers “farm to table” freshness and embodies seasonal cuisine.
We ordered the mezze – a platter of house made pita, crudite and your choice of three condiments. For the condiments we selected the hummus, beet relish with slices of white grapefruit atop, and the artichoke puree.
The pita bread was warm and fresh from the oven. The exterior was crisp and slightly charred. The interior was soft and chewy. Taking a small piece of pita, I spread the hummus inside and took a bite. The hummus was cool and smooth, in contrast to the heat wave we were experiencing outside. The artichoke puree was velvety, because it is prepared by hand, and the artichoke meat is actually scraped from the leaf. There was no hint of fiber at all. The saltiness of the feta made the artichoke flavor shine through and was the perfect compliment to the puree. The beet relish was bright and lively on your tongue, especially with a bit of white grapefruit. The beet relish was everyone’s favorite. The beet relish was prepared with care as well by the use of a special mill that grinds the beets and removes any fiber from the relish leaving behind a texture that looks like a cassis sorbet.
Our second selection was the Eastern Mediterranean Salad. Made with farro, bulgur, barberries, little gems, moroccan mint, ricotta salata, sunflower seeds, pomegranate reduction, red wine vinagrette, and za’tar. The smell of fresh mint was the first thing Maria noticed as the platter was set before her. This salad was my first experience with little gems lettuce. Little gems are like small versions of romaine lettuce and has a tender texture similar to butter lettuce. Barberries were another food I had never tasted. At first I thought they were pomegranate seeds, with the seed removed. They are so delightfully bright RED! The salad was a big hit with us and made us feel as though we were eating such healthy food.
The next course was the warm funghi – a blend of shitake, pioppini, and trumpet royale mushrooms with sherry vinegar, crisp lavash and fresh herbs.
Prepared in the oven, the earthy mushrooms are transformed by heat and smoke from pizza oven. The mushrooms are meaty, and slightly caramelized. The sherry vinegar and fresh herbs coupled with the crisp lavosh turn this dish into something that could be a meal all by itself.
Saving the best for last, the Chilled Seafood with Socca arrived. A crisp cake of chickpeas, with fresh, fresh, fresh seafood was the perfect end to our entrees. The shrimp was succulent and briny tasting. I’m not a big fan of calamari, but everyone else thought it was cooked perfectly. Sandra and I split the last two bites, it was so good!
So, my tummy may be full, but my dessert compartment always has room. Today was no exception! First up was the Yogurt Panna Cotta.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know that we had a beautiful panna cotta at Campton Place. Although very tasty, we all voted the Panna Cotta from Campton Place was the best.
The Bittersweet Chocolate Custard was a big surprise! The espresso cloud gave no indication of the chocolaty layer beneath. The brittle sesame nougatine offered the perfect foil for the rich custard. The turkish coffee cocoa nib shortbread melted on your tongue – buttery rich!
Last, but not least was the Bl Meyer Lemon Meringue Tart.
This was fantastic!!! A flavorsome crust, mildly tart lemon filling and perfectly prepared meringue.
We all enjoyed our meal at Bouli Bar. We were a little skittish at the beginning as the restaurant was not ready to receive guests at 11:30, the time of our reservation, but our fears were quickly allayed after we were seated. It was so good, Maria was considering coming back to celebrate a birthday.