One surprising revelation I learned from my recent trip to Asia; the U.S. is not the only country that loves malls. Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Seoul had more shopping malls than even L.A., and we basically can't get enough of them. Between The Village at Westfield Topanga and the forthcoming re-openings of Westfield Century City, The Beverly Center, and the Westside Pavilion, it's clear that LA developers are pouring tons and tons of money into making the city's shopping malls central destinations. Not only for retail, but for food too. The Americana at Brand is one of those outdoor shopping destinations that clearly found success with that model since opening in 2008. And though it features some typical mall go-to's like The Cheesecake Factory and Le Pain Quotidien (side note: I love Le Pain, so no disrespect here), it's seriously upped its game with additions like Katsuya, K. Ramen, and Din Tai Fung. And they just added another popular local restaurant to the mix--Bacari GDL, the popular wine bar from Playa Del Rey. Bacari boasts a mix of straightforward and creative dishes inspired by Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, with a wood-fired oven, pizzas, pastas, small plates, and plenty of proteins. With a nice selection of wines, fun cocktails, and an affordable happy hour menu, Bacari is sure to become an after-work staple for locals and Glendale worker-bees alike.
Though pastas, pizzas, and proteins reign supreme at Bacari GDL, I was pleasantly surprised by a few of the lighter appetizers. The Shaved Root Vegetable salad was a nice, fresh, veggie-centric salad nicely dressed with some creamy blue cheese. Watermelon radish and fennel were especially nice and refreshing here-- a light salad perfect for a little starter.
Filled with cheese, toasted pecans, and pesto, the stuffed cremini mushrooms were actually quite satisfying little bites. They were definitely not your typical wedding hors d'oeuvres stuffed mushrooms, but a bit more indulgent without being over-the-top or too filling.
Their namesake fries were definitely a rich dish, especially with a runny fried egg on top. Reminding me of poutine, the fries were crispy and salty, while the Lemon and Smoked Pepper Sauce added a nice umami flavor to the fries. You really can't go wrong here.
Getting into the heartier dishes of the evening, the Lobster Bisque was another satisfying dish featuring pleasing flavors like lobster broth, white wine, and lobster meat. Considering the indulgent aspect of lobster bisque, it actually wasn't too heavy and came with a generous portion of lobster. Definitely a nice, comforting, but still well-balanced choice for our occasional cold nights.
Clearly, Bacari is not shy when it comes to incorporating lobster and other bold seafood flavors into their dishes. Packed with plenty of lobster and crab, the Lobster & Crab Mac + Cheese was definitely heavier and even more indulgent than the lobster bisque. With large macaroni and five cheese fondue, it's definitely one of those comfort dishes that really goes for it (and yet didn't seem gimmicky). Admittedly, I couldn't stop eating it, so it must've hit the spot.
After going ham on the mac, I admittedly didn't have a lot of room for the next few dishes, but I obviously had to try the short rib. Braised for 24 hours, it was very tender, with a sweet glaze and beef jus that brought out the flavors: definitely a really nice short rib. And for a very reasonable $14, its an excellent option for carnivores not looking to break the bank.
Finally, we finished off with the Bacari Burger, which is described as "open faced" but was a bit more of a toasty, fluffy roll of bread with a meaty patty and fried egg on top. It certainly wasn't the easiest to eat (and we made a huge mess), but it was really good. I really enjoyed the fresh tomato and carmelized onion, which added a nice acidic element and sweetness respectively. Also, everything is better with a fried egg, amiright?
Overall, the meal at Bacari was a fun one; the dishes tend to lean towards the heavier side, but they have options like Oven Roasted Chicken Breast and salmon for those looking for something a bit lighter. With a nice design and plenty of fun drinking options, coupled with the clear focus on just making good, satisfying, pleasing food, Bacari is a fun, low-key dinner spot that has the potential to capture the interest of locals and Americana shoppers alike.