I have this bad habit of taking my friend Megan to horrible restaurants, so when I made plans to take her out for her birthday, I’m sure she was thinking she better eat a sandwich ahead of time so she wouldn’t starve. This time I think I finally got it right. I decided to take her downtown to the West Street Market to try out Bowl.
Bowl is owned by the previous owner of Sezmu. This restaurant is very different from Sezmu, though not in a bad way. While the space is small, it has a cozy modern feel. The place probably only seats 12, not counting the bar that runs along the front window. Overflow seating is available out in the market. Bowl has no paper menus. Instead, a large chalkboard displays the choices. The menu here changes frequently, but the main premise is that all dishes are served in a bowl.
Bowl is a self-service kind of place, where orders are placed at the counter at which time you are given mason jars for water glasses. The water is on the counter in a large glass jar filled with lemons, mint and ice resulting in a nice refreshing flavor. They also hand you your silverware and napkins, which are bandannas. I thought it was really charming. Megan and I took a minute to sit down at a table and go over the chalkboard menu. We decided to start with some pickled vegetables ($4) and a bottle of Zestos Malvar ($20), a Spanish white wine. They were quickly brought out to us. The vegetables arrived in a small bowl, filled with things like jicama, green beans and cauliflower. They were crunchy with a light vinegar tang and sweet finish. The green beans stood out the most too both of us. The wine was crisp and fruity but had a dry finish.
For entrées, I went with the barramundi ($15), which was served over lentils and topped with asparagus and prosciutto. Barramundi is a white fish that is amazingly buttery and sweet. The serving was large and had an olive tapenade on top that was rich without being oily. The prosciutto was surprisingly tender and flavorful. My favorite part of this dish was the asparagus, which was firm and had a smoky taste.
Megan went with the Mediterranean style “stew” ($11), which was a vegetarian dish. The stew was a bowl of couscous, butternut squash, chickpeas and almonds, with more of that great asparagus on top. This was a great dish with so many layers of flavor. At first it started off rich, but then spiciness crept in. All of the ingredients in both dishes tasted really fresh, which was what stood out the most. Unfortunately, because we finished most of our entrées, we didn’t leave any room for the chocolate cake with ginger ice cream ($6).
I thought the trip to Bowl was a complete success from the cool location downtown to the incredibly fresh food. I knew it had been when I told Megan we should get together soon for another dinner, and she actually agreed—after I promised we could come back to Bowl.