Home > Restaurant Reviews > Stunteater Reviews: Market Bar – San Francisco, CA

Stunteater Reviews: Market Bar – San Francisco, CA

A recent trip to San Francisco had me down by the Ferry Building at dinner time.  Unfortunately, the markets housed inside were mostly closed by the time we arrived, so I could not do too much foraging, but the Market Bar was still open. 

Market Bar’s food is hard to describe – it’s at the happy four way intersection where gastropub, osteria, bistro, and tapas bar meet. Most of the food is sourced from vendors right there in the building, lending a certain closeness to the purveyor that would be otherwise difficult to achieve and ensuring that the food is well-curated and likely to be local.  The menu includes items as varied as a Yucatan-style seafood stew to pasta bolognese or sea bass ravioli.  In other places, this might be a warning; here, it seemed more like an invitation.

We ordered the charcuterie plate to start, which came with house made pate; soppressata, coppa, and mortadella from Hobb’s; and was accompanied by mostarda, two kinds of mustard, pickled onions, and an herb salad that may have been a deconstructed gremolata.  Hobb’s can cure some meat – the sopressata had a rustic texture with a good spicy bite to it.  The mortadella, difficult to do well, dissolved in the mouth and lacked the graininess of a bad emulsion.  Even with those two standouts, the house pate was the best on the plate and one of the best I’ve had, with a smooth texture and rich flavor that did not go overboard on the liver. 

For the entree, I ordered the Ahi Tuna Tonnato.  I’m a sucker for tuna, topped with a sauce made from…wait for it…tuna.  There’s just something about anything topped with itself.   The dish was well-executed: served rare (as I had requested) and sliced on top of a salad of helga beans, tomatoes, and shallots.  The sauce provided a nice complement to the seared tuna, augmenting the tuna’s natural flavor without tasting explicitly or distinctively of tuna.

My dining partner ordered the Grand Seafood Plateau, which could have used some work.  The standard portion was enough for an entree for one person or could have been served as an appetizer for two.  The shrimp and lobster appered to have been previously frozen and the dungeness crab portion was on the small side of acceptable for a $36 plate, er, plateau.  Not the kind of experience I expected.

All of this was washed down with some Meteor Pils, another undiscovered French beer that will make it into my favorites list.  It worked well with all parts of the meal – mild enough to do well with seafood but enough body and carbonation to wipe the pallette clean after a bite of pate.

The verdict?  There are so many good restaurants in San Francisco, many of which I have not had the pleasure of eating in.  If I worked in the area, I could see myself going here for a snack and a beer after work or a special lunch.  If this restaurant was in Charlottesville, it would be a go-to on par with Mas Tapas, as long as I did not order the seafood plateau.

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