Ek Bar at Baar Baar
Across the culinary universe, celebrity owners are handing the reins over to celebrity chefs with tasty results. From Priyanka Chopra-Jonas’s Sona to Sujan Sarkar’s gastro bar – Baar Baar – there is increasing recognition of culinary skill as the dictator of the gourmet experience. In fact, Baar Baar has a Michelin starred- buzz. The plate that tickles the palate draws the crowd.
The kru (mentor in Thai) chef is center stage.
Chefs are genre-bending recipes
Chefs are taking century-old recipes and deconstructing them. The recipe is re-layered, nuance by nuance, tickling the palate with delicate flavors, the makings of a transformative meal. The contrast of pungency with sweetness takes the taste buds on a roller coaster ride, playing high notes one minute and coming up for air the next. Cool, crisp vegetables quell the palate.
“We have a twist in some dishes but there are the holy cows that we don’t deviate from, for instance, daal. Butter chicken is made with no color. We make sure the recipe stays true but fresh. Pure,” Chef Sarkar told India Currents.
One fruit takes different forms to play a medley of tunes in a single dish. Three avatars of mango – chopped mango, mango leather (aam-papad or aam shotto,) and mango sauce accompany the ghevar tart topped with a mousse of rice pudding. A grand finale to a sumptuous meal.
Dessert of lacy sweet tart in a blanket of kheer mousse
In addition to the layering of flavors, each dish has its own multi-layered cooking process.
Butter chicken or jackfruit biryani takes many steps to the finish – soaking, marinating, grilling and finally saucing.
“For instance, says Chef Sarkar. “We flatten cottage cheese into sheets, sprinkle pistachios, and roll the paneer sheets before dousing them in the fragrant saucy gravy.”
Small and large plates feature vibrant flavors of India in a progressive, modern presentation.
A jugalbandi of flavors
Chefs from complementary Asian cuisines collaborate to bring gourmet experiences to the curious diner. Canapés, mini plates, and main courses, one from each chef de cuisine, are plated in a jugalbandi of flavors.
Kru, the Thai, and BaarBaar, the Indian, sit side by side on the plate: a fruit topped with candied shrimp-peanut-pork teaser and a bhaigan bhartha tart topped with goat cheese and slivered salad. Neither competes with the other. One earthy and the other flirty, the two canapés band together to play palates.
Kru’s crispy shrimp salad with a slaw of green apples and caramelized fish sauce jumps into bed with Baar Baar’s chili chicken tossed in a ketchupy slaw of sautéed vegetables. Saucy!
Baar Baar has planned a summer concert of Pan-Asian culinary performances by guest chefs.
One diner remarked,“ This menu is different from the restaurants’ everyday fare but I got to taste two restaurants in one sitting.”
A menu that pulls from Bollywood films has reached Hollywood
Chef Sujan Sarkar was an early adopter of the farm-to-table movement. California, the fruit basket of the nation, inspired a new menu that incorporates seasonal produce as part of the menu. Sarkar created a meal rooted in the city. Sarkar opened ROOH in San Francisco, where he first served his interpretation of new-age Indian cuisine.
With BAAR BAAR — New York’s First modern Indian gastro bar he has created a fun space. In Chicago, he serves a fine dining experience at Indienne. Its tasting menus show Chicago a different side of the subcontinent with French flair. When asked about Baar Baar-Los Angeles, Sarkar says, “You have to experience it.”
Along the way, Sarkar worked at the Michelin-starred ‘Galvin at Windows’ and headed up the hotspot ‘Automat and Almada,’ both in London. In New Delhi, he took the helm at Olive Bar & Kitchen. All these experiences helped create Sarkar’s distinctive culinary style, drawing from nostalgia for dishes he grew up eating in Kolkata, as well as the modernist techniques he has developed from leading kitchens all over the world.
Kru 190 N. 14th Street, between Wythe Avenue and Berry Street, in Williamsburg
Baar Baar 13E 1st St. New York.