Dining at the Bacara Resort’s Angel Oak is somewhat like being invited to confide in your friend’s juicy secret, a bit of deliciously private mystery for you to chew on. As soon as you enter the award-winning and fashionably dark interior, with its sleek and shadowy color palette and dimly lit bonsai trees, you feel exclusive. The innovative seafood-steakhouse menu by Chef Vincent Lesage, with his expert Parisian techniques, continues the intimacy in its almost subversively sophisticated comfort food selection with flavors that reveal themselves the more you get to know them. Here were some standout items.
Asparagus Salad: A crispy-gooey and rather heavenly egg, done sous vide style for four minutes, crowns this salad of grilled green and white asparagus, speck, and summer truffle vinaigrette. The smoky-savory speck enwraps the asparagus in a sumptuous twirl, while the wonderful egg drips goldenly throughout. Both light and heavy, refreshing and indulgent — this is how you do a summer salad.
Soft Shell Crab Tempura: Simply put, you’ve never seen a crab like this. Fried up in a squid-inked tempura batter, the aquatic beast comes invitingly dark and mysterious, like the restaurant itself. But it’s its complements — deeply rich dollops of uni butter, and a surprisingly minty mash of pea shoots — that gives the crab dish its dynamism, turning your mind around to wider possibilities of tempura than you may have imagined.
Pan-Seared Bass: A dish short on ingredients but huge in flavor, the sea bass comes with a variety of artichoke preparations: artichokes barigoule, crispy artichokes, and an intense artichoke sauce. Each iteration expresses a different shade of ’choke, a surprisingly perfect pairing for the fish, with its sweet flesh and salty skin.
Angel Oak Tater Tots: If you’re picking a side (and you must), these would be the way to go. Described by my dining companion as latkes on steroids, these lavish bites take the tater to the next level. Hopefully they’re on the room-service menu.