Everyone remembers the dark ages of 2012 when everything imaginable was flavored with bacon. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the artificial smoky taste out of my mouth. But BarBacon, a new restaurant next to Think Coffee on 4th Ave., is here to redeem the meat’s reputation. Crafted entirely around that one key ingredient, the bar’s cohesive menu serves delights including pulled-pork sandwiches and chicharron nachos. With a good balance between the ambiance and food, this restaurant and bar might just be the next NYU hangout spot.
Presenting an elevated wine-and-dine experience, BarBacon features a design that introduces us to its innovative savory treats in the context of a sports bar. The restaurant was born from owner Peter Sherman’s dissatisfaction with traditional bar food, which, more often than not, plays second fiddle to alcohol and the experience of watching sports.
In lieu of searching for bowls of peanuts and pretzels to decorate the bartop, Sherman worked toward drafting a dining palate that matched the bar’s call for enthusiasm and athletic allegiance. But what could be the focus of a cohesive menu to complement the perfect sports bar experience? Bacon, of course.
“No one was elevating bacon. No one was treating it like it should be treated. I wanted to elevate it out of its ordinary category,” Sherman said.
Tapping into our cravings and adding sophistication to the habitually mediocre snacks found in sports bars, bacon works to round out the flavors of traditional bar staples, conquering the long history of rudimentary bar foods.
The menu is full of porky delights, but the house-cured lamb bacon reuben particularly steals the limelight. Created with a BarBacon special sauce, the restaurant spins the classic New York dish with its lamb shoulder bacon, Gruyere cheese and sauerkraut, combining everything into an elegant fusion of mildly sweet and savory flavors. If there is one dish that could prove BarBacon as a bona fide bar food powerhouse, the lamb bacon reuben is at the top of the list.
Other orders do not fall short of the Rueben’s standards at all. Their Vietnamese-glazed Brussel sprouts serve as an impressive addition to the restaurant’s gastatory repertoire. While roasted Brussels sprouts have been popular bar fare for a while now, the dish went way beyond what I would expect. The salt of the bacon is complemented perfectly by the cream of the Greek yogurt garnish, the fervent popularity of the dish is a testament to BarBacon’s innovation and reinvention of regular foods.
However, the food outshines the drinks. The red sangria lacks flavor — the seasonal fruity taste and the acidity of the wine fell short of expectations. I also tried the cranberry juice, which tasted watered-down, similar to the other drinks I sampled. The wine and the juice seem to call for a more detailed execution in comparison to the immaculate presentation of the food. However, the hard liquor options offer a saving grace to the bar’s extensive drink menu.
Paying homage to the bar’s theme, the bacon-infused vodka and bourbon provide interesting flavors that excite the taste buds. Some drinks, including The BarBacon Old Fashioned and the Bacon Bloody Mary also utilize bacon-infused liquor to construct a unique profile. The vodka in particular, almost perfectly extracts the smokiness of bacon, making unusual but laudable bedfellows with the bitter liquor.
Bacon is the anchor that ties the different dishes into a comprehensible and comfortable bar menu. With such an in-depth understanding and appreciation for the joint’s prime ingredient, BarBacon is an exemplary foodie spot in its own right, which like its location, draws tourists, business professionals and college students alike. While a little bit on the pricier side, this is the place to go if you are looking for a fun Friday night out with friends or just watching sports without compromising on sophisticated flavors.
Email Lauren Ong at [email protected]