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Welcome to BYT ME, where each frisé, sauté, filet and brulé is out for itself.

(BYT [pr: bahyt] (Get it? B-Y-T! stop rolling your eyes…)

0 byts = wtf? i did not sign up for dog food sampling.
1 byt = edible. would consider eating again if stuck on deserted island or lost in space and running low on dehydrated food and out of astronaut ice cream.
2 byts = dece (as in, short for decent) at best. might eat again if haven’t eaten in a few days and only options for nourishment are between this and toe nails (finger nails already eaten).
3 byts = meh. would probably eat it again. definitely would if handed to me if on verge of hunger fainting spell and/or at end of drunken evening.
4 byts = tasty. missing something, but not much. would order again if the 5 byts option wasn’t on the menu.
5 byts = heck yes.

Going Totless: It’s already been several months since Bar Pilar took tater tots off the menu. Whether it’s a better place for it remains to be seen.

It was dinner for three on a Thursday night. A rainy Thursday night. Scratch that – a fucking drenched Thursday night. The kind of night when umbrellas are just as useful left at home. But that didn’t stop the three of us (Alyssa, Svetlana and moi) from sprinting (or in my case, shuffling quickly in my infrequently-worn bright pink heels) from the car to Bar Pilar (does that all rhyme?) to sample their new-ish menu.

We arrived to find a wait for tables. This is important to note, I would argue, for two few reasons: 1. As I mentioned earlier, it was fucking pouring out, which often means restaurants are less busy. This wasn’t the case at Pilar that night, which I think bodes well for the place. 2. Bar Pilar has not worked out the “table management system” (also known as getting a hostess), so tables for dining can be hard to come by when drinkers are lingering at the only table tops.

A short wait and a glass of yummy chardonnay for each of us later, a table in the back near the kitchen opened up – a lovely spot for three. Waiter Ed brought over the menu – a maybe too-adorable little green chalkboard with the day’s tapas.

We opted for 5 items to share between the three of us*:

Chorizo with white beans ($7)
Mushrooms with sweet potato puree ($6)
Tuna with eggplant puree ($7)
Eggplant risotto with Portobellos** ($6)
Deviled eggs ($5)
We were also brought a shrimp dish, courtesy of chef Barton Seaver***

Our ratings and Feelings:
Chorizo – 3 byts
The beans were cooked aldenté (sp?), which I prefer, so I loved them. The chorizo was rather tender and cooked very nicely. But, last time we checked chorizo had a kicky spice to it. Doesn’t it? This was just not spicy enough for our tastes or expectations. Meh.

Mushrooms: 2 byts
The biggest disappointment of the evening. I was the one who chose these off the menu and was disappointed to find them lacking in flavor. And, they were actually a little cold by the time I dug in. The sweet potato puree was nice, but also rather bland. Even a little salt would have helped. Toenail me.

Tuna: 3.5 byts
Second to best dinner dish of the evening. The tuna was cooked perfectly and the puree accompanied it nicely, although the entire dish was still lacking in a bit of…umph.

Risotto: 3 byts
Nice. Impromptu (you’ll note they were out of the basil risotto). Not mind-blowing. We could taste a lot of the eggplant flavor – but not much else. Not as interesting as it could have been.

Deviled eggs – 4 byts
By far our favorite (dinner) dish of the evening. The deviled eggs were devilishly (ha! ha! heh…ughhh…) good. The eggs were perfectly hard boiled, beautifully presented and the yolk had a nice flavor to it. However, they might have received one more byt or half-byt if we could actually remember what the flavor was a week later…

But wait! There’s more. Dessert.
I forced Svet and Alyssa to order the honey goat cheese cake AND the chocolate flourless cake from pastry chef, Lizzie Evelyn. I had had both of these desserts before and knew we would not be disappointed. We were not disappointed. We gave the cheesecake 5 byts and the chocolate cake 4.5 byts. The cake was a half byt short of perfection because we couldn’t rate anything as delicious as the cheesecake. But it was still a.ma.zing.

Overall: 3.5 byts
The experience itself was lovely. Nice ambiance. Nice presentation. Very reasonably priced (whole thing cost about $40 for three of us.) Sadly, the food was not as byt-ful as we had hoped it would be. But, it’s still a young kitchen and has room to grow. We would go back, with hopes it will continue to improve as they find their cooking legs.

Tots or Tapas?
I have a hard time judging whether it’s better than the old kitchen. I’m not a ginormous fan of tater tots, although they do have a time and a place, and the old Pilar was a good place for them. But wine bars have a time and place too, and perhaps this is the right time for Pilar to be one.

There is no doubt the experience there has changed. The clientele and atmosphere are different – older, more refined, less frat boy. Maybe a little less charming-goofy. But this is inevitable. It’s still a nice, entertaining neighborhood restaurant and bar (especially since they finally have music selections other than a jukebox) and a great option in the 10-block radius.

I think it remains to be seen whether Pilar can be as admired in this wine and tapas version as they were as a beer and tots bar.
In the end, one thing does remain the same: they still get extra bonus points for the photo booth.

bec, your Jaded Palate correspondent;
jaded so you don’t have to be.

*these are approximate titles & descriptions
**it was listed as basil risotto but the kitchen was out of that dish
***this had NO influence on our ratings; we are steadfast journalists with the utmost integrity, un-amused and certainly un-swayed by gifts and pleasantries and such (sparks not included). we swear!

(disclaimer eggs in photo above were NOT devilled at bar pilar-but deserve to be)