Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bac Becomes "Blech"

Bac opened a few months ago on Tremont's historic West 14th Street, very close to Grumpy's Cafe and the Lincoln Park Pub. Any new restaurant in Tremont has a lot to live up to with such great restaurants lining the streets of this neighborhood. I started to hear mixed reviews of their food, but as soon as the warm weather hit and they popped open their lime green patio umbrellas- I knew we would be dining there soon. The lime green was calling out to me.

This week, Cleveland has been sweltering. The humidity has caused us all to seek air conditioning, and we spent less and less time outdoors as the week went on. Friday evening rolled around and I was craving a patio. Bingo- this was the night to try Bac! Around 6:30 we settled into a patio table and started to look at the menu. Immediately, I wanted to try the Summer Rolls ($5)- two rice paper rolls filled with sliced shrimp, rice noodles, lettuce, cucumber and basil and served with dill cabbage, carrot and peanut sauce. They sounded light and refreshing- just what we needed on this humid night. "R" is also a sucker for dumplings, so we decided to share an order of the Gyoza Dumplings ($5)- five pan-seared dumplings filled with ground chicken, pork, cabbage and scallions and served with ginger soy sauce. The appetizers arrived quickly, even though our drinks took quite some time to arrive (more on that later). The summer rolls were exactly what I was expecting- light and fresh with crisp vegetables and a nice basil flavor. The peanut sauce was not the best that I've had, but we also started dipping it in the delicious ginger soy sauce served with the dumplings. The dumplings arrived looking fried, and were a little dry inside and greasy on the outside. The ground meat filling was minimal and bland, but the soy sauce was the saving grace for this dish.

Several of the entrees appealed to me, including the Pad Thai and Artichoke Pesto Pasta (with an Asian twist). I settled on the Mango Curry (pictured above) with shrimp ($14)- mango, zucchini, carrots, and onions stir-fried in yellow coconut milk curry sauce. Our server asked how I would like it served, and I replied "hot". And hot it was! I have a feeling that even the mild is not for the faint-hearted. The sweet mango, variety of stir-fried vegetables, and ample serving of shrimp were satisfying- but nothing special. I wasn't wowed, but it was a decent dish and I heard many others around us ordering it as well. Now here is where the meal REALLY goes downhill...fast.

"R" and I typically like to order two entrees that we both are interested in so that we can share and sample more than one dish. He fought long and hard to order the Seared Scallops ($18)- pan-seared jumbo scallops and shitake mushrooms in a plum wine reduction sauce and served with roasted asparagus. The dish is not something that I would traditionally want to order in an Asian restaurant, but we both love scallops and he happily ordered the dish. When the plate arrived, he immediately offered up a scallop. As I attempted to cut it in half with my fork, I found that I really had to struggle to cut it. Not a good sign! I was right- they were incredibly chewy, dry and tough. Not only that, but there was a strong flavor that can only be described as tasting like cleaning product. Or as "R" started to joke- "Pine-Sol brine" or "Windex marinade". They were absolutely the worst scallops that I have ever tasted, both in flavor and texture. After eating a few of his own, "R" did take a stab at the other half of my scallop that was left on the plate. He informed me that the one I tried was the worst of them all. Great.

I have to say that even though all of the other dishes were okay (not great), this one will leave a lasting impression on us. As will the service. There was only one other table of guests on the patio when we arrived, and only a handful of patrons inside the bar and main dining area. Yet our drinks took way too long to be delivered, and the time that we waiting in between our appetizers and entrees was excessive. Several tables that had been seated even after we had finished our appetizers were served their entrees before us. A little communication would have gone a long way, but our server acted as though nothing was wrong and that the wait was normal. Not impressive. I was really looking forward to trying Bac, and adding another Tremont restaurant to our list of frequent stops. However, I left very disappointed and with a bad taste in my mouth. Literally...

Now every time I say the word "Bac", "R" goes "Blech".

Bac Asian American Bistro & Bar
2661 West 14th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113


Bac Asian American Bistro on Urbanspoon

8 comments:

bonnjill said...

Sounds like the scallops had gone bad (ammoniated). If it ever happens again send them back.

poiseinparma.com said...

Oh no, I had such high hopes for you that night! I agree with the previous commenter - those scallops must have had several things wrong with them to taste that way. I guess we'll have to schedule our meet up for another location! I'll email you Monday - I need to check my work calendar for the week of the 2nd...

Bite Buff said...

Agreed- there had to be more than one thing gong on there with those scallops. I wish that I could describe how terrible they were.

I'm not ready to give it a second try just yet, so another location is a must! I'm open to wherever. Looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

A self proclaimed "foodie" as yourself should know that when a scallop begins to turn, an organic compund within it starts to emit an ammonia smell...you'll hear them referred to as ammoniated and you should never eat them. Probably safe to say that's why it was the worst you'd ever tasted

Anonymous said...

This cat has no idea what they are talking about or he has the worst luck in the world.

This is the best Asian restaurant in Cleveland hands-down no question!!

Go decide for yourself folks - you won't be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

wow, we love BAC and so do many people we know. They have amazing mixed drinks, great appetizers, and very good food. And who orders scallops at an Asian place anyways? If you aren't going to try what makes them special, then don't review it. I would recommend you try again.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and these are some of my recommendations: Drinks 17th Parallel & Singapore Redux. Appetizers: Bacon Guacamole, any of their Roles. Dinner Entrees: All of these are sooo good - BANH MI SANDWICH, VIETNAMESE NOODLE SALAD, PAD THAI, CRISPY ORANGE CHICKEN. We have had all of these, and they are some of our favs. Not to mention, everyone there is so friendly.

Bite Buff said...

I do appreciate the recommendations. I have heard that the Banh Mi is good, but haven't had it. I have actually been back since this first visit, and I'm sorry to say that I still didn't care for it. I've had a total of nine dishes by now, with no "stand outs", a couple of average dishes, and two terrible ones. Yes, the staff is very friendly and the place is so cute. I just have higher expectations for the food in an area like Tremont. But I'm glad that you, and many others, enjoy it. It just isn't for me. Thank you for your comments.