With friends, I've been known to begin an evening on the restaurant's front patio, unwinding on pillowy couch with a bottle of Spanish wine and French cheese, moving the party into the dining room to plunge spoons into the chef's irresistible Garlic Soup, with Rock Shrimp, Bacon and Egg, and share "California-meets-the-Pyrenees"-inspired entrees like Duck Confit with Braised Green Lentils, and Sautéed Pacific Swordfish with Cauliflower, Parsley, Lemon and Pine Nuts.
Alone, I've happily grabbed a stool at the bar and simply asked the bartender to do the ordering for me, while he pours me a glass of wine. I did just this on my latest trip, and was rewarded with a late lunch of Grilled Calamari and Grande White Bean Salad, tossed in Salsa Verde (see above), followed by a hearty dish of Twice Cooked Oxtail, topped with Pickled Pepper Salpiçon (see below).
And when a friend showed up barside to join me for coffee and dessert, how could I resist? We quickly laid waste to a helping of ridiculously good Gateâu Basque served with Candied Kumquats.
Regrettably, I've never made it to Basque Country. At some point, I'm sure I'll take a spin around Bilbao, Pamplona, Biarritz, and San Sebastián. But, until then, I can always visit by way of San Francisco.