Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bar La Grassa

Visited on Thursday, April 8th with Kris and Erin

Outside Bar La Grassa

Ben's Review

Friends of ours invited us to join them at Bar La Grassa after seeing we hadn't been there and it was on our list. We arranged to have Erin's mom come to watch Annie while we went out for a couple hours, promising to be home by 9.

Bar La Grassa is located on N Washington Ave, just down the street from Black Sheep Pizza. I really liked the decor with the high ceilings and the exposed industrial interior. The restaurant is huge, running down Washington Ave and extending back fairly deep. As you walk in in there is a nice looking bar that was full of people waiting for their tables, that's where we found our friends, Kris and Erin.

Inside Bar La Grassa

We had reservations so we didn't need to wait, we were brought to a table towards the far end, near the kitchen. Bar La Grassa is one of those really loud places that makes it difficult to have a conversation with the people you're with. Furthermore, as you yell across the table it enables all the tables around you to also hear your conversation, making them talk louder and you can see how this gets out of control. I've come to accept that some places are just loud, there's nothing I can do about it. I'll also admit that sometimes it works, given the ambiance, and this is one of those places. It has a bustling quality to it that seems to make the noise fit in.

Our friend Erin had bought Kris a new set of glassware that she was giving him that night and arranged with Bar La Grassa to bring out our first round of cocktails in the glasses, as a surprise for Kris. Of course as we sat down Kris suggested getting a bottle of wine, but Erin smoothly talked him out of that and into getting something that would go in his new set of glasses. They have a good list of specialty cocktails, but I still opted for Jack Daniels which prompted Kris to get scotch.


We shared a couple appetizers, we had heard that the soft egg and lobster bruschetta was good so we ordered that and the charred red onion and goat cheese bruschetta. The soft egg and lobster was absolutely fantastic. The eggs were just slightly underdone so they weren't runny but had a delicate feel to them and they were delicious. The goat cheese bruschetta was also very good, but I would say the soft egg was well worth the extra $6.

Charred Red Onion and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

For my entree I got two smaller portions of pasta: the fusilla col buco with pork sausage and the silk handkerchiefs with basil pesto (I love basil pesto). Both of my entrees were good, they were not as good as I was expecting given the reviews I had recently seen online. The fusili col buco was great at first until you realize how much salt there was, it was overpowering after a couple bites. The pork and the pasta were both cooked great, just a tad too much salt for my liking. The pesto was bland compared to pesto I've gotten from the store and also homemade pesto, which surprised me. Pesto is easy to make, so I would expect something more flavorful. The pasta was again cooked well, just not enough flavor. I didn't finish the pasta and there wasn't enough leftover to justify bringing it home.

Silk handkerchiefs with basil pesto

Fusilla col buco with pork sausage

Erin had been looking forward to getting dessert but we realized that we needed to get going to make it home without being too late, so we paid our portion of the check and headed out while Erin and Kris enjoyed the dessert menu, so I can't comment on the desserts. We enjoyed going out, we had a good time with our friends and the service was great, but I doubt I will be back to Bar La Grassa anytime soon.
  • Service: Great service, they stayed out of the way and everything was taken care of.
  • Food: Appetizers were excellent, the pasta dishes left something to be desired.
  • Drinks: Long cocktail list and wine list with a decent tap selection, also a full bar.
  • Ambiance: Loud. I think my throat was hoarse the rest of the night. Though the volume does seem to fit in, as mentioned earlier.
  • Price: Prices are on the higher side, especially given the disappointing pasta.
  • Convenience: Parking can be annoying in this area, you might have to walk a couple blocks to find an available meter. I don't believe there are any ramps or lots in the area.
Erin's Review
When Erin L. asked me if we'd be able to get a babysitter for Annie and join her and Kris for dinner at Bar La Grassa, I was super excited. I had read great things about this place, and heard nothing but rave reviews. My mom was more than willing to watch Annie, so we were set! When we got there, I was impressed with the large space and beautiful decor. I really liked the vibe right off the bat - it didn't feel pretentious at all, the service was great, and it seemed like a nice place without feeling too stuffy.

Inside Bar La Grassa

We immediately ordered drinks so that Kris could get his gift of cocktail glasses - he was definitely surprised and realized that the glasses the cocktails came in were the ones he wanted, which made it even more fun :) I had a bellini, which was pretty much the least cocktail-y thing I could find (I'm not really a huge cocktail person, but wanted to play along with the surprise). The bread and amuse bouche served well to help curb my hunger!

amuse bouche


I had read a few reviews before we left, and based on those and Erin's recommendations, we chose the soft egg and lobster bruschetta, which was absolutely awesome. Definitely the highlight of the evening! I didn't try the other bruschetta due to my distaste for goat cheese, but everyone else thought it was good, although not nearly as good as the lobster.

Soft Eggs and Lobster Bruschetta

For my entree, I chose the Calamarata with raw tuna which someone had recommended to Erin. I really enjoyed this dish - the flavors of the sauce paired nicely with the warm pasta and cool tuna. I also thought this meal was a tad on the salty side, but nothing too bad. I would definitely recommend this dish if you like raw tuna! Erin had the gnocchi with cauliflower and orange, which the waitress recommended - I really enjoyed the flavors in that dish as well.

Calamarata with raw tuna

Gnocchi with cauliflower and orange

As Ben mentioned, we all were a bit disappointed in Bar La Grassa - after reading SO many rave reviews, it's hard not to build up a place in your head to be totally amazing. While everything was very good, it wasn't mind blowing, which all of us were expecting. Unlike Ben, I didn't think the prices were that high - they seemed pretty reasonable, but I liked my dishes better than he did so that might be why.

I'm glad we went to Bar La Grassa - the ambiance was great, and it is a beautiful space. My dishes were a bit different than what I usually eat, so it was a nice change. Everyone else seems to love this place, so I'd still recommend checking it out.

Bar La Grassa
800 North Washington Ave