If you like Sens, the upscale restaurant overlooking the Ferry Building from Embarcadero 4, you'll almost certainly like Barcha
, its casual cousin now open on Fremont and Market streets. And if Sens isn't your cup of tea, you'll still probably like Barcha.
A lamb skewer (served, perhaps counterintuitively, in a pita) was certainly flavorful, and although it'll set you back $19, it's a a meaty lunch comparable to a burger — and God only knows what people are willing to shell out for those. The organic Turkish bulgur was nothing special, but the crispy new potatoes with rosemary and sea salt were a fine companion to the lamb. If you're one of those people who appreciates the little things — like heavy cutlery, say, or a fresh wooden cutting board as your "plate" — then Barcha's aesthetic will appeal to you.
It's open for lunch and dinner, with lots of Mediterranean gems on the menu (potato and sheep's milk feta croquettes, bazlama, a toasted orzo salad) alongside regulars like quinoa and a kale salad. Don't hold it against Barcha that Mediterraneans have a healthy diet; focus on the fact that they eat to live and live to eat. Dinner builds upon the lunch menu to offer sexy "mezze" like a crush California avocado (with poached egg, salsa verde, crispy chicken skin, and piment d’espelette) and substantial entrees like an oven-roasted Australian sea bass or a red-wine-braised short rib. And happy hour runs a generous 3-7 p.m. As with the surprisingly good (and utterly under-rated) Mazza Luna
on Van Ness, there seems to be a strong entry point for upscale Mediterranean fare of exactly this ilk. It's delicious, it's good for you, and you can class it up real nice-like. I hope S.F. gets more.
Speaking as someone who loves eating outside, it breaks my heart a little to see a beautiful outdoor seating zone open up in early November, just as the rainy season begins (and when it's not raining, it's a smidge nippy to be dining al fresco). But if you're condemned to eat indoors until March or April, you'd be hard pressed to find a nicer spot, with wide windows, and not a white subway tile in sight.
, 28 Fremont, 415-957-5463.