Best Thing We Ate
Unsung Heroes: Bix, 1930s-Esque Supperclub in FiDiBy Virginia Miller
September 3, 2014
Welcome to Unsung Heroes, a column where we explore the under-appreciated, amazing and long-standing classics of the Bay Area that don't get nearly enough love in the press. For our latest column, SF's classic restaurant that evokes a 1930's supper club:
The Gist: Down a FiDi alley a neon sign ushers diners into Bix, Chef Bruce Hill and Edward Higgins' restaurant since 1988. Evoking a 1930s supperclub complete with two-stories, upstairs booths and a stately staircase gazing down over a mahogany bar, fluted columns, original art and plush banquettes, all set to live jazz from the grand piano. Old school, it certainly is — and sometimes service can be a bit stiff to match. But we wouldn't have it any other way. Martinis are shaken and spanking fresh steak tartare ($15) is tossed tableside. It's refreshing to have such a respite of classic elegance ready for a dress-up date night or a decadent martini lunch.
Eat This: Currently, Bix's tomato cart ($17) is a must. The tomatoes are impeccable at their peak with a silky mound of Di Stefano burrata in the middle and accents of fresh basil. Waitstaff dress the tomato salad tableside from a cart, just as they do with steak tartare year-round. Their decadent black truffle cheeseburger ($28 - one of our honorable mention best burgers) is served open-faced on rye with truffle fries, a house favorite and a worthy splurge for burger fanatics. We look for fish of the day specials as they can be entree standouts. Recently, it was a whole roasted, skin-on branzino ($35) — shareable for two — cooked with oven-cured tomatoes in yuzu butter and salsa verde. A fun starter? "Potato pillows" ($15), or essentially, salty, fried squares or bites of whipped potato contrasted by a dollop of creme fraiche and a scoop of American caviar.
Drink This: Cocktails here are overpriced (think $12-15 for basic classics) and not the best in town but they are solidly executed and the setting just begs for the classics so fussy new recipes aren't needed. The is the kind of place that just calls for a Negroni, an Old Fashioned or a gin martini. We like a low-proof classic Remember the Maine ($12), robust and dry with Cocchi Americano vermouth, Oloroso sherry and rhubarb bitters.
56 Gold St.; 415-433-6300
Tomato cart dressed tableside [Photo Source: Virginia Miller]
For previous Unsung Heroes coverage see:
Lucca Ravioli in the Mission
Katia's Russian Tea Room in the Richmond
Pacific Cafe in the Richmond
Helmand Palace on Van Ness
Gaspare's in The Richmond
Graffeo Coffee in North Beach