This Week's Restaurant Review, The Condensed Version: Bar Ama
This week, the restaurant review focuses on Bar Ama, Josef Centeno's new downtown Tex-Mex spot. Head over to the food section to read the full review, or take a peek below for the condensed version.
Anne Fishbein Amberjack ceviche, tomatillo, red onion, chile, mango at Bar Ama
Food: Bar Ama is ostensibly a Tex-Mex restaurant, but it's also a Josef Centeno restaurant. That means there's a lot of riffing going on here. Yes, there's queso dip and gooey enchiladas, but there's also really quite stunning vegetable dishes, as well as some fantastic meaty mashups. Desserts are a high point.
Drinks: Great, tequila-based cocktails, a fun and interesting wine list, and a fantastic beer selection.
Looks: From the review: "Bar Amá looks very much the part it's playing: a middlebrow Tex-Mex restaurant with a few fancy touches. The ceilings of the downtown storefront building are high, the cups and plates are enameled tin, the tables are lined with brown paper, and the music and conversation are loud. The walls are made of planks of reclaimed wood, sanded by Centeno himself and arranged in an appealing chevron pattern."
Service: Casual and friendly: the bar service is particularly good. There's an occasional problem with large parties in that food comes out whenever it's ready -- some folks might be done with their food before others have even received theirs.
Takeaway: 3 stars. This is a loud, fun restaurant with a huge menu, most all of it executed fairly flawlessly. Flavor combinations, particularly on the vegetable dishes, go beyond smart and border on brilliant. A great restaurant that can go ahead and be raucous and casual without sacrificing quality. And also a good place to stuff your face with cheesy glop if that's what the occasion calls for.
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