Bar Review: The Bungalow Kitchen, Tiburon, California
One doesn’t typically expect DJs and bottle service in the sleepy town of Tiburon, right across the water from San Francisco, but that’s what’s on tap after hours at this luxe restaurant and bar, launched by SF scene-maker Michael Mina and partner Brent Bolthouse.
The Bungalow Kitchen invited Drinkhacker to sample its wares on a recent pre-summer evening, and while we normally find ourselves tasting a few dishes and sipping on a few cocktails on nights like this, I was ill-prepared for the gustatory experience that followed.
Let’s talk about the cocktails first. There’s a menu with a collection of original and classic cocktails — all $18 or $19 — but you’re best advised to let head bartender Chris Penn take the reins and whip you up something of his own creation. The two bespoke cocktails pictured here didn’t have names but were nearly impossible to put down — one a blackberry and bourbon riff, the other a mix of apricot, lemon, and Sagamore Rye, the lattermost a surprisingly apt ingredient. Penn later mixed up a Vieux Carre as well as the Shallow Aloe (cucumber infused vodka, ginger, lemon, aloe) from the standard list, but neither compared to the originals he served. Bungalow also has an extensive and very high-end wine list, for those with more decadent tastes.
Speaking of which, if you didn’t have decadent tastes you wouldn’t be visiting here. The restaurant quickly whisked away our menus after we were seated and brought forth a steady stream of items from the dinner menu, beginning with the insanely great caviar parfait, whish is served on a potato cake along with smoked salmon, egg mimosa, and creme fraiche. From there, tuna tartare — mixed tableside — and truffled yellowtail sashimi only increased the bacchanalian insanity of the meal.
Mind you, that was all served ahead of a bevy of side dishes — the Grand Marnier-glazed duck wings are a crispy-sweet standout — followed by two of Bungalow’s signature entrees — a gorgeously prepared bone-in rib eye and Mina’s signature dish, a lobster pot pie (pictured intact) that is de- and re-constructed tableside. I had trouble picking a favorite among the two, but ultimately gravitated to the steak, classically fired and lightly smoky. On the whole, there’s so much richness on the menu that one cries for a big glass of wine to cut through all the butter, cream, and fat, but whiskey also does the trick in a pinch.
After the dinner hour, the second story of the Bungalow turns into a club of sorts, with a DJ in one corner and room for dancing, at least a little bit, near the station. We didn’t see a whole lot of dance action on that front, but the bars remained bustling upstairs and down on a Saturday night. That said, given the kind of food you’re going to be putting down, busting out a move or two upstairs might not be a terrible idea.
5 Main St., Tiburon, CA
Dinner Wed-Sun, 5-10pm; Late Night Fri-Sat, 10pm-2am; Brunch Sat-Sun, 11am-2:30pm
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