Hanna Raskin loves the soups, the noodles, the setting, the cocktails and more at the "engagingly fluctuant" Ba Bar, its rocky beginnings be damned. Eric Banh's newest venture "keeps a punishing operating schedule" that starts at 7 a.m. and runs 'til the wee hours. Sure, there are a few flubs, but Raskin all but raves about this "dynamic haven of hard drink and Vietnamese comfort."
For "eaters who fancy duck," Raskin's all about the mi vit tiem, "an egg-noodle soup so bodaciously ducky that it feels odd to approach it without an ear-flapped flannel cap." But the best dishes come from the daily specials menu:
"Here, where inspiration and intensity converge, diners will find one-off oddities made with various beasts and superb renditions of staples such as goi ga: a tumble of slivered red onions, snappy curlicues of paper-white cabbage, translucent radish crescents, chopped peanuts, basil leaves, and garlic cloves, showered with vinegar and coconut milk. The marinated salad's brash acid could compel a vegetarian tongue to do a triple Lutz, but the dish is made even better by shreds of tender dark chicken, a textural rally partner to the salad's crisp bedding."
No surprise, Raskin says you should skip dessert in favor of a cocktail. She also takes minor issue with describing the menu as street food, given the "range of knife-and-fork dishes." But "what's street about Ba Bar is the implicit acknowledgment that food and drink are supposed to fit seamlessly into customers' daily lives, not complicate or compete with them." [Seattle Weekly]
Tan Vinh is back from vacation and busy happy houring at Le Grand Bistro Americain. The lakeside Kirkland spot offers "one of the area's best happy-hour views." Happy hour is heavy on French bistro staples, including "fat, juicy pork sausage," fries, steak tartare and "a salty, crispy chunk of pork belly that a beer would cut nicely into." [Seattle Times]