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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Kid in the Candybar

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 12:22 PM

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Notes by Tamara Palmer, Photos by Tim Pratt

I was a bit sad knowing that, with this birthday, I'd technically be leaving the youth demographic behind. But I learned over a slice of cake and Cocoa Krispies ice cream that I could still be a kid in the Candybar.

The dessert/wine/art lounge opened in late March, and has had three different chefs during since then, as reported by EaterSF. That site's coverage has made it clear that Candybar is still defining its identity; the menu, which changes monthly, contained savory as well as sweet items until November's, which omits the savory and lowers the average dessert price to $7. And, quite honestly, Eater doesn't make it necessarily sound like a place worth visiting. But I decided to give it a whirl myself and vote with my own taste buds over blog gossip (which I also like to consume).

It was a great idea. Since my little birthday dessert jamboree there on Sunday night, I've been able to think of little else.

Birthday sugar fests are a tradition for me and my long-suffering teeth, from devouring 50-scoop Zoo sundaes as a kid at the now-defunct Farrell's in Daly City to last year's dessert pot-luck, which ended with a surprise naked appearance by the Porn Clown Posse and a frenzied attempt to keep certain naughty bits out of the sour cream apple pie from Heidi's Pies in San Mateo.

Candybar has the feel of a small cocktail lounge, with comfortable couch seating in the windows and small tables in the back. The adults were drinking beer, wine and wine cocktails, but I stuck to water and sips of the malted milk that came with the fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies. There was also baked hot chocolate with marshmallows, but that would no longer be considered a liquid beverage. And cayenne cinnamon chocolate mousse, which was never a beverage but would have gone down amazingly well with a straw.

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Cornmeal cake, sticky carrot and cream cheese crema was the least sweet item on the menu, and a good choice for ordering a couple. The black twig apple pie had goat cheese sherbert that tasted like ice cream.

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Beignets with spearmint sugar were melt in your mouth lovely, but oh so tiny. I longed for them to be the like the giant sized ones at Just For You in Dogpatch, but that would have stopped the proceedings right there and made it impossible to try more desserts, so I defer to the chef's decision.

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The cheese plate was nibbled before I remembered to inquire about the specifics, but I was too happily spreading Meyer lemon vanilla preserve on crisp apple slices and trying to take a stance on what I felt about the coffee-rinded mystery cheese to bother. I also couldn't quite place my quick bite of the poached pear special that was not on the menu, but enjoyed what I took to be some cheesy undertones to its yogurt bath.

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The salted buttermilk panna cotta with frozen grapes and olive oil never made it to my side of the lounge, so it was probably decent! And the gorgeous Muscato sorbet was melted before we could snap a picture.

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I liked everything quite a bit, but the Thai coffee tapioca with sweetened condensed milk ice cream was my favorite, with medium sized pearls that had the perfect amount of chew and give without being intrusive. I would have easily just slurped the whole thing down by myself had I not been afraid of detonating a dairy bomb.

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I started out with a strategy to eat lighter items first, but ended up in a chaotic whirl of forks and spoons as I needed to try everything, and then try it again. Rinse and repeat. Certainly, I'll be more composed next time. . . as long as next time is soon.

Looking back on the menu now, it's unbelievable (and a bummer) that we managed to miss two of this month's items entirely: Rose water pistachio rice pudding and the butterscotch pie with Nilla wafer crust. Maybe we'll order those when we attend the debut of Candybar's brunch (menu to be determined; we tried unsucessfully to pry out some hints) on November 30. Candybar is located at 1335 Fulton (at Divisadero); 673-7078.

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Tamara Palmer

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