Last night, we had the good fortune to take a sneak peek at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana at one of the restaurant's soft opening rehearsal dinners. With the ceviche and pisco flowing, here then, are some preliminary observations from last night, the night that was:
1) First, the news. The opening, originally scheduled for tomorrow, has been pushed back to the first week of October. The delay is mainly due to finishing off the construction and coordinating with Gaston Acurio's schedule, because the La Mar head honcho is hoping to attend the debut.
2) Since it was a soft opening, we'll hold off on the food comments (though for a test run, both the FOH and BOH were running rather smoothly), but the space itself—a 100 year-old building on Pier 1.5—is a unique one and still coming together. There are basically three distinct areas: the dining room, where high ceilings make for good acoustics while Latin music and palm trees make for a festive, if slightly cheesy, environs; the ceviche bar that wraps around the kitchen and spills into the entry area with lots of bar seats there (clearly expecting big crowds); and finally, another more self-contained bar area in the rear along the Embarcadero. Plus, that patio.
3) A word about the bathrooms: unlike the majority of SF restaurants, it looks like some thought/design was put into the restrooms at La Mar, which we can appreciate. It's the little things sometimes.
4) Prices—at least on the incipient version of the menu—were surprisingly reasonable for a celeb chef endeavor. Most dishes were in the mid-teens, with only two entrees over $25. The wine list, in particular, had a good number of moderately-priced bottles and glasses. The pisco-centric cocktails were mostly $10.
5) At least in its scope, the place reminded us a lot of the Slanted Door, being an ambitious restaurant that's going to try to elevate a relatively-unfamiliar cuisine to a new level in the city and in America. La Mar has already been pegged as Peruvian cuisine's ambassador by national media folks, so it should be interesting to see how it turns out.
· PierWatch: La Mar Nears Post-Ply Status, Sets a Date [~ESF~]
· PierWatch: La Mar Cebicheria Peruana Takes Shape [~ESF~]
· All La Mar Coverage [~ESF~]