And what a dinner it was! I forget where I first heard about Baker and Banker – Tasting Table? Food and Wine? The SF Inside Scoop? All plausible possibilities. Anyway, the restaurant had been hanging out on my “places to go” list for months when the opportunity to eat there finally presented itself a couple weekends ago. Some friends and I – the roommate among them – were going shopping to the city, and naturally, dinner plans fell to me. I actually tried to get a table at a couple other places first, and then when one at Baker and Banker was available, I snatched it up – and I’m so glad I did!
We had an early reservation (5:30 p.m.) and the place was pretty empty when we first arrived. However, it was bustling by the end of the visit, many hours later. The restaurant itself is quite small and warmly lit, creating a very cozy atmosphere – perfect for a chilly winter evening. The interior décor has a subtle masculine feel to it, and the bathrooms are awesome – the walls are lined with autographed menus from famous restaurants. There isn’t a full bar, but an ample beer and wine selection is available. The restaurant is owned by a culinary couple, Jeffrey Banker (chef) and Lori Baker (pastry) – I mean, with a name like Baker, it was kind of fate, right? Chef Jeffrey stopped by our table during the meal and checked on everything. I just love it when chefs do that, even if they only stop for a second. It just makes the whole experience special, and gives me the feeling that they truly care about their food and whether I had a good experience or not.
So onto the food – it was delightful! Like many Bay Area restaurants, Baker and Banker focuses on local, sustainably sourced ingredients. The prices were reasonable, especially for the city. Also, the wait staff was awesome – my dining companions had a lot of questions about the menu, and our server was super-knowledgeable, competent, helpful, and friendly.
We started with the duck liver pate, under my recommendation. This was a risky one – I’ve had chicken pates that I loved, and others that I did not like at all. However, given my affinity for duck, I had to give this a try – and I was not disappointed! It was delicious, not too heavy, and served with great accompaniments – crostini from house-made bread, poached pears, and some crispy greens. Everything put together had wonderful balance to it, and our server was nice enough to bring extra crostini once we’d run out. We also had a bread basket that featured several different breads and crackers from the bakery, all of which were scrumptious.
|Duck pate at Baker and Banker|
Next came our entrees. I had – you guessed it – duck! It was perfect duck, too, with the best crispy skin that I’ve ever had. Everyone at the table loved their meals. Portions were smallish, but we all finished our plates with room for dessert!
|My duck entree -- so good!|
|A fellow diner had the sea bass and raved about it|
So then, obviously, came dessert. I had these cute little jam-filled doughnut holes, served with lemon curd for dipping. Di-vine. The tart lemon curd helped balance the super-sweet doughnuts, so the dish didn’t feel too heavy or anything – just a great end to a great meal. And, our server offered to call a cab -- a service they offer to all patrons! We didn’t need one, but I thought that was an awesome touch.
|Dessert -- enough said|
Honestly, this was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time (which is really saying something…and obviously, I do not include Chez Panisse in that statement, because Chez Panisse is on a whole other playing field). The atmosphere, the service, the food, the company – everything came together in perfect harmony to create a wonderful evening that won’t soon be forgotten.