The Distinguished Gourmand: Bar Amá
I know you might find this hard to believe, but — somehow! — I was able to fix the insane technical glitches that have plagued this website for the past few months. If you are just now learning this (or assumed I was being lazy and not posting anymore), allow me to explain. Roughly six months ago I started seeing weird messages on the administrative side of the site. These messages pertained to “missing files,” or what I suppose were files that WordPress was looking for on my server that were not there. I don’t know if WordPress wasn’t in sync with the files associated with my WordPress Theme, or it was something else entirely, but there were definite problems on the back end. The guy who created my theme told me my site had been hacked, and it was my fault. WordPress told me it was a theme issue. My hosting service told me both could be responsible, and I should re-start from scratch. Ken and KT — mostly KT — were incredibly helpful as I tried to navigate this situation. In the end, I had to create a brand new database on my domain, freshly install the WordPress engine as if I was a new user, and hopefully import a backup of the blog that would completely restore 14 years of my posts and media files. This did-and-did-not work in various ways, until last week when I somehow got, like…99% of the way to a full restoration of the site. The archives will forever be a tiny bit fucked up, but at least I’ve regained the ability to compose and publish a new blog post. For almost a month if I tried to add a new post I could only type a title. The rest of the page was blank. All appears to be normal now. Fingers crossed. Hopefully, it won’t all go to shit when I click the “publish” button in a few minutes…
After a several-month hiatus, Dinner Club For Day People reconvened last month at Bar Amá in downtown Los Angeles. Amá is part of what is colloquially referred to as “Centenoplex,” which alongside Amá Cita, Bäco Mercat, and Orsa & Winston make up the portfolio of chef Josef Centeno. Bar Amá is described by Chef Centeno’s thusly:
“Fideo and borracho beans with cilantro and pork belly simmering on the stove, menudo every Christmas and New Year’s, deviled egg salad between a butter toasted bolillo, and puffy tacos stuffed with lengua carnitas and crushed avocado and doused with pequin chile vinegar salsa. These are just some of the dishes that have inspired me—the food that I was nurtured with by the women who raised me. Bar Amá is my interpretation of their Tex-Mex.”
Our reservation was for 8:30 pm but due to a party of 8-12 people languishing over the remnants of their meal for an obscene amount of time, we were seated 45 minutes late. Halfway through our wait were provided with complimentary chips, guac, and queso. It was a nice gesture, but also super filling after the third bowl of chips. I wish someone in the FOH would have simply told the assholes taking up half the dining room that they needed the space, but I get it. No one likes to be the bad guy. In the end, only our party suffered, and we’re a bunch of martyrs anyway so we’re fine with suffering. When we were seated, the kitchen sent out a few more complimentary snacks. I also think the first round of margaritas were on the house. I cannot be certain because I downed like six or seven margaritas by the time the bill arrived. I just know it was way cheaper than I thought it would be. Thanks, Bar Amá, for taking care of us! As for the food…
I know I joked about the wait for a table a few times, but we really did enjoy our meal, and the staff was quite accommodating throughout the evening. It needs to be stated, though, that our annoyance about the 45-minute wait is entirely warranted. The eight members of Dinner Club are perfectly capable of waiting for a table if necessary. My issue with this particular experience is: A credit card is required to make a reservation at Bar Amá for parties of six or more. For every person in that party who does not show up, you are charged $15. We were eight people. If two of us were stuck in traffic and missed dinner, Bar Amá would have charged my credit card $30. If an establishment is going to be so bold as to state this policy upfront, you need to also make damned sure you uphold your end of the bargain. You want to threaten a party of eight with a no-show penalty? That’s fine. But the table needs to be ready when the party of eight arrives. End of rant.
Bar Amá also boasts a Super Nacho Hour menu, which looks awesome. I’ll be returning soon to try some of those nachos (and the Frito pie!) in the near future.
Lastly, Mark is the next Dinner Club member to pick a destination. Hopefully, 2020 will be filled with more regular Dinner Club meetings. Stay tuned!
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