I was excited to get an invite to the opening of a beautiful new bar and restaurant on 11th street, next door to the venerable Slim's, called Bar Agricole. The space has two components, a patio/terrace that surrounds the front entry that will soon be a small oasis of filled planter boxes, herbs, and flowers, as well as the restaurant itself. It was an opening, so we only got a sampling of the food to come, but what we had was tasty, modern, and artisan-crafted. Perfect gougeres, lamb chops with romanesco sauce, killer local melon with perfect prosciutto and drops of balsamic, home-made pickles...it all points to homey accompaniment to their superb cocktails.
We started with a small-batch whiskey cocktail with orange bitters, cane syrup in a glass with an enormous ice cube from a special super-cold icemaker was simply spectacular. Next was the grower-tequilla cocktail with grenadine, bitters, syrup, sour mix, and some home made thai bird's eye chili bitters. The chili tickles the back of the throat to make this an intriguing concoction.
I'm sure we could have stayed and filled up on the tasty bits they were passing around, but we also wanted to try another new restaurant, Radius, that opened up in the old Julie's Supper Club space on Folsom between 7th and 6th.
Julie's has been remodeled into a modern, clean, farm-house kind of vibe inside which fits the strict locavore theme to the new Radius. The restaurant is split in to two sections, with a main restaurant and a cafe that is also open for both lunch and dinner. The Chef trained at Alain Ducasse in NY, yet keeps it simple and elegant, not overly complicated and fussy.
We started with the excellent Sweetbreads Meuniere with a ragout of swiss chard, tomatoes, and veal jus and the Homemade Gnocci with Maitake Mushrooms, both amazing. The sweetbreads were delicately prepared, braised-not-sauteed and the gnocci were pillows of potatoes with amazing maitakes. One test of a great chef is their chicken, which can be revelatory like the chicken at Radius. Here it's a roasted half chicken with carrots, spinach, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, and lovage infused chicken sauce served in a cast iron skillet. The chicken is impossibly tender and perfectly cooked, crispy skin and sublime sauce. A must try when you go. The slow-roasted boneless short ribs in a red wine reduction served over local goat cheese polenta was also perfect and comforting. Word is that the chocolate and vanilla profiteroles with chocolate sauce and almonds is great as well, though I didn't taste it. (Stupid nut allergy!)
The wine list is all Napa and Sonoma, which for someone like me is a bit annoying, as this food cries out for French country wines and burgundies. That being said, the list is very well priced and it's easy to find a good bottle for a very good price --uncommon for such a fine restaurant. We had the 2008 Mary Elke Pinot Noir Donnelley Creek Vineyard, Anderson Valley. This is a good cold-clime pinot that is light and fruity, not super deep or complex, but delicious and a steal at $38.
Both Radius and Bar Agricole are highly recommended. At Radius, ask for Frederic, he's parfait!