You want to know the secret to life? It's about balance. It works for people, it works for restaurants. Consider, for example, Bacar in San Francisco. The name "bacar" means wine goblet in Latin and, as you might expect, the restaurant, with its 1,200-bottle wine collection, does wine very well. But this is a restaurant that thrived during S.F.'s tech boom and it survived the city's devestating dot.com bust when a lot of others bit the dust. For that, you can thank balance.
Bacar understands that the best restaurants have a great wine list and a great menu. The one who makes Bacar's menu dance brilliantly with its exquisite wine list is chef Robbie Lewis.
A Little Rock, AR, native, Lewis arrived in San Francsico in 1992 and began working nights as a prep cook at the legendary Boulevard. He later hooked up with chef Traci Des Jardins at Rubicon. There he worked every station and honed his craft. When Des Jardins later opened Jardiniere, Lewis was named sous chef.
He left for a short time to cook in several restaurants in France, Italy and Spain, and then returned to the city to cook at 42 Degrees and at another legend, Chez Panisse.
Lewis was then called back to Jardiniere, where he assumed the post of executive chef. When he was there the restaurant got a three-and-a-half star review from the San Francisco Chronicle and he was named a Rising Star by StarChefs.com. He also cooked on the Food Network's Iron Chef with Des Jardins (a 2007 James Beard Foundation Best Chef, Pacific region).
At Bacar, Lewis is winning praise for his Northern California cuisine with Mediterranean influences. His winefriendly food includes small plates such as clams pastis with saffron, fennel, lemon aioli and grilled bread, and full entrees such as pan-roasted Alaskan halibut with delta asparagus, foraged mushrooms and green garlic pancetta vinaigrette.
A lesser chef could get lost in the shadow of Bacar's powerful wine list and its three-story glass-fronted wine cellar. But Lewis and his menu have the weight to provide balance . . . and that's no secret.