One of my favorite craft cocktail spots Liliana recently debuted an incredible prix fixe experience called Bar 5-8. Named for the four end bar seats, the experience consists of a five-course cocktail and food pairing while seated at the bar. Diners get front row access to bar director Uzziel ‘Uzzi’ Pulido to watch and learn about the creation of each cocktail.
The food comes from the shared kitchen of newly Michelin-starred sister restaurant Osito. Led by chef-owner Seth Stowaway (Bar Agricole, Mister Jiu’s), Osito features live fire cooking in a fine dining tasting menu format. Needless to say, Liliana’s food by the same team is equally as impressive as the craft cocktails.
The highly seasonal, California menu currently features Umpqua spring lamb, light seafood, and fresh local produce. While the lamb course was a standout with tender smoked loin and roasted shoulder served with asparagus ‘grits’, I thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of the concise, but bold menu.
Modest looking cabbage rolls were flavor bombs that soaked up apple butter and fermented cabbage sauce, while chicken fat created a luscious mouthfeel. A French onion soup-esque course came with parmesan milk bread that we had to ask for seconds of (couldn’t let that decadent house butter and green garlic sauce go to waste!) Luckily, the kitchen was able to accommodate.
Dessert was an avocado tart with smoked green strawberry and pickled blueberries. The tart shell was a lighter, flaky style which contrasted nicely with the avocado cream filling. This time I (barely) resisted the urge to inquire about seconds.
With each course, I enjoyed a thoughtfully paired craft cocktail that could stand on its own. Previous cocktail pairings I’ve done tend to have milder cocktails to not overpower the food, but are rather forgettable. At Liliana, I could easily enjoy any of the paired cocktails separately.
As there were five courses, the cocktails were not full servings, so you don’t have to worry about being overly inebriated. The cocktails ranged from bright and citrusy to warm and full-bodied. As a whiskey lover, I enjoyed the bourbon, Japanese whiskey, and scotch base in the last three courses. I’m not much of a gin martini fan, but Uzziel’s spin on a 50/50 martini with fresh herbs and blood orange bitters made me question my prior aversion.
Service was very personable as usual. Uzziel is a natural storyteller, and he seamlessly weaves in fun stories like childhood memories and glassware finds, while sharing his deep knowledge of ingredients. Osito chef Cameron Sycks personally presented and described each food course, and chef Seth frequently makes the rounds to converse with patrons.
Currently this menu runs Tuesdays and Wednesdays only and must be pre-paid via Resy. And at $140, which includes both food and drink, Bar 5-8 at Liliana SF might be the best upscale prix-fixe pairing you can get in San Francisco at this price point!
* Meal was hosted, opinions are my own.