Bắc — Restaurant Review

Sunday, 14 February 2010

This was the open­ing week­end for the epony­mous Bắc, the new Asian food place in Tremont. I’d spent most of the day yes­ter­day tramp­ing around Cleveland in the snow, so it was a wel­come change of pace to spend some time in a warm room with great at­mos­phere and cute wait staff. The change in the space from what used to be La Tortilla Feliz is re­mark­able. Gone is the yel­low-or­ange paint, and the stuc­coed walls are now a sooth­ing green. All of the dé­cor was picked by some­body (I’m as­sum­ing Bắc him­self) who un­der­stands that classy looks, com­fort, and util­i­ty do all go to­geth­er.

When I met Bắc at the Velvet Tango Room a few months ago, he said that his goal was to cre­ate a place where you can get an ap­pe­tiz­er, a drink and a din­ner for around $20. He did a good job. The menu is struc­tured in such a way that you’ve got an ar­ray of op­tions that meets this goal, and an equal ar­ray for a din­er who wants to shell out a bit more. There’s even a cus­tom cock­tail menu (most run around $7), and $2 PBR’s that are $1.50 dur­ing hap­py hour.

I want­ed to get every­thing on the menu, but whit­tled it down to the Banh Mi sand­wich ($8) or the pad thai ($11). The Banh Mi sand­wich sounds de­li­cious, so I’ll get that next time I go there. I got the pad thai, “fam­i­ly-hot”, and since Bắc’s fam­i­ly is in the kitchen mak­ing the food, this was hot. Also, since Bắc’s fam­i­ly is in the kitchen, the hot­ness was such that it en­hanced rather than over­pow­ered the fla­vor of the pad thai. The spring roll ap­pe­tiz­er ($5) was al­so amaz­ing. Fried just enough, but not greasy, the in­ter­nal bits were chopped fine­ly enough that you didn’t pull them all out when you took a bite, and the roll had enough ten­sile strength that it didn’t dis­in­te­grate on­ce one end was bit­ten off.

Look, I can’t em­pha­size enough that Bắc’s fam­i­ly is in the kitchen mak­ing the food. So we’re talk­ing gen­er­a­tions-old fam­i­ly recipes here.

Since to­day is Chinese New Year, we were even served com­pli­men­ta­ry co­conut jien duy (a sesame seed dumpling) af­ter din­ner.

Bắc hits all of the restau­rant sweet spots. Go there.