The Lazy Ox Canteen used to be my favorite small plates place in Los Angeles. My heart belongs to another now. Well, kind of.
Chef Josef Centeno's latest venture, Baco Mercat, is like a less expensive version of his much-adored Lazy Ox. Similarly wonderful food that's easier on my wallet? Sold!weatherjen, so I went on another date with insomniac, dapotato, and yeah4me to capture the greatness of this restaurant and to sample more dishes.
Baco Mercat is moody and dark but not so dark that beautiful, busty Christina Hendricks from Mad Men could hide in a corner from us. insomniac reminded me that I failed to mention that we also saw Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family when we ate at ink. It seems that, whenever insomniac and I are together, we spot television redheads. Maybe we'll see the dude from Homeland the next time we dine!
Baco Pop -- orange ginger juniper soda ($3).
dapotato liked hers.
Caesar Brussels sprouts, pecorino, anchovy, garlic ($11).
When vegetables taste this good, you know you're in for a fabulous night.
Lamb ragu, cavatelli, pecorino, herbs ($14).
weatherjen and I went gaga for this, so I was excited to order it again. It wowed twice!
The Toron Baco -- oxtail hash, pickle, cheddar, tater ($12).
The baco is basically a flatbread taco. So very tasty!
The Original Baco -- pork, beef carnitas, salbitxada ($9).
The best fucking finger food I've had in a long time. This is the inspiration for the whole restaurant, and I could taste why. The meat! So crisp! So melt-in-your-mouth! Dude. So freaking yummilicious.
Pork shank crepinette, farro, shellfish Bearnaise ($16).
The Ham, Egg, & Cheese Coca, pancetta, salsa verde, ricotta ($12).
When you roll out the dough for a baco to be flatter and thinner, you get a pizza! Not as incredible as the baco but still quite good.
Pistachio semifreddo, pine nut, chocolate ($7).
Otherworldly. Seriously. A perfect meal for one would be the Original Baco and this.
Almond cheesecake, chocolate crumb, lemon curd ($7).
Nice and light for a cheesecake with a lovely tart accent. While the rest of us lusted after the semifreddo, insomniac liked this dessert the most.
Warm pound cake, lemon verbena, yogurt ($7).
Another solid dessert. We all gave it the silver medal.
It's difficult to say what was the best part of this meal. It may have been my bill -- just $37.