The entire concept of Bar Food is a contradiction in terms.
While it is indeed a bar that serves food, you won’t find the usual fare of potato skins dripping in grease or processed chicken fingers with a side of honey mustard sauce. Bar Food prides itself on being a neighborhood bar in the quaint shopping mall of Habersham Village, yet the décor is swank and hip without being posuer. The clientele is as diverse as the menu. When surveying the room, it isn’t hard to imagine that Norm and Cliff slipped away from Cheers to enjoy a couple of brewskies at the bar while ogling the Sex and the City ladies at a nearby banquette.
Bar Food manages to combine two concepts that were once mutually exclusive: a bar that serves delectable cuisine and quality imbibements. The food is French-Asian infused - another welcomed surprise, and the selection of wine and drink is top shelf. Proprietors Paula Letcher and Johnny Baker have accomplished what they set out to do. To put it succinctly, Bar Food offers a local watering hole that attracts patrons from all over while serving up scrumptious edibles under its inauspicious moniker.
The stylishly simplistic atmosphere is reflected in the menu, which features such unpretentious offerings as sweet and smoky bar bacon or baked Brie with a strawberry cognac sauce. With an ever-changing menu that revolves around favorite staples, you might decide to try something new or opt for an old standby.
The steamed chicken dumplings with ginger are ideal for sharing with friends over cocktails, as are the mouth-watering Asian pork crispy wantons. Several of the dishes lend themselves to being sampled by couples or small groups, like a French-Asian style of tapas.
I must admit that I have tried nearly every item on the menu at least once and thoroughly enjoyed each dish.
If you happen to order the bleu chips, don’t shy away from the mountain of decadence when the plate is set before you…splurge. Even if I’ve had to pause momentarily, on occasion, to recall what I had ordered for dinner the morning after (did I mention that the drinks at Bar Food are excellent?), I have never been disappointed. While I’m anxious to try anything that Bar Food can serve up, I tend to stick with my standard refresher of Maker’s and DC or maybe Bombay Sapphire martinis, but there are always drink specials featured and the menu lists time-honored cocktails like the Gibson and Manhattan.
Recently, I discovered a little bit of heaven in a bowl with the improbably basic title of ‘Asian noodles.’ The minimalist description, all in lower case, reads, ‘warm soba noodles topped with medium rare duck breast.’ Experience has taught me that duck can vary between greasy, tough, or both if ill prepared. The concept of medium rare fowl is not an enticing one when considering chicken or turkey, but it’s a lesser-known fact that duck breast falls under the red or dark meat bird category. I gave it a shot because I had tried nearly everything on the Bar Food menu and wanted a new experience.
The presentation was apropos to the menu, with thinly sliced duck breast atop a bed of Soba (Japanese for buckwheat) noodles. Nothing too fancy or overdone. The reward is when you wrap your fork around the noodles in a spicy peanut sauce, add a sliver of duck, and top the bite off with a taste of kimchi. Oishii!
As of this writing, the Asian duck has taken the top spot in a long list of favorite dishes at Bar Food. Next on my agenda is to try the veal chops and the scallops in an Asian citrus marinade – the only remaining items on the menu that I haven’t sampled. I have no doubt that, true to form, they will prove as pleasing to the palette as everything else the kitchen turns out. If you haven’t enjoyed the Bar Food experience, stop doing yourself an injustice and stop by 4523 Habersham Street.
We highly recommend it.