It's been trendy in some quarters to bash the pure product of Bay Area foodism, all that minimal tweaking of ingredients, the short jog from farm to table, and a cookbook shelf that makes an even shorter walk from Elizabeth David to Alice Waters. But last night at the crazy clusterf%*k that was Bar Agricole's friends, family, and media christening, I had pretty much one thought: California Cuisine is back, baby. Unabashedly, too.
Of course, Bar Agricole's visuals are anything but Panissean. The original 1900 Jackson Brewery has been repainted in a thick coat of Dwell modern, all concrete booths, glass-straw skylight sheaths, and urbanscape photo murals. But chef Brandon Jew's Judy Rodgers-meets-Paul-Bertolli passed nibbles (fritto misto with aïoli, gougères, melon and prosciutto, rillettes), the biodynamic compost in the herb-and-lettuce garden up front, the bar's obsession with sourcing ― it all seemed to celebrate the aesthetics of figs on a plate. Without apology.