Trendy wine bars with seasonal small menus are all the rage right now.
Located in the old Californios spot, Buddy is such a cute wine bar with some interesting dishes. Its concept is similar to Snail Bar and DAYTRIP, both wine bars that I adored so I knew I would most likely love Buddy too. Also one of the partners of Buddy is the bar director of True Laurel, a very popular cocktail bar with food as well.
One of Tommaso’s old coworkers is a cook here and we’ve been meaning to visit her so we finally went. He said it was weird being back at the old Californios location which was his first restaurant job in San Francisco (they have now moved to a larger spot in the city). While the décor is completely different now, we both got a little nostalgic walking into this new space.
Since it’s a wine bar (they also have some ciders, beers, and low proof cocktails), we started off with a sparkling wine and a low proof cocktail.
While the sparkling riesling was refreshing, the “bitter milk punch” kinda blew me away. It was a mixture of bitter wines, vermouth, lemon, strawberry, and angostura bitters. I honestly had no idea what to expect but it was so good with a sweet flavor profile and notes of vanilla. We also ended up getting the house campari soda (not pictured) which had berto bitter wine, campari, orange bitters, and soda.
These worcestershire spiced pecans were addictive and had a slight kick. I do think I preferred True Laurel’s version of their bar nuts by just a smidge. It’s a close call.
These one biter gougères had creamy labneh inside with briny smoked trout roe. I could have easily eaten a few more.
First off, the presentation was immaculate. I loved the shingled look of the lemon cucumbers with the yellow peaches on top of the vadouvan yogurt. The lemon basil garnish added a bright herby aroma to a stunner of a summer dish.
This was one of the more unique flavor combinations that we had and were pleasantly surprised. The summer wax beans were dressed in an XO sauce with toasted peanuts served with a preserved lemon aioli. Never did I think of putting these ingredients together but it worked.
This layered dip had cream cheese, anchovy, guindilla pepper, manzanilla olive, and black currants. I personally would have liked a little more of the black currants to offset the acidity of the manzanilla olives and guindilla peppers.
Roasted corn swimming in brown butter? Count me in! I loved this dish especially with the pieces of unctuous pancetta and the tart pickled apricot.
This was the weakest dish of the night (still good) but I wanted some char on the summer squash and the cheese crisps felt a tad stale. However, the fresh sungold tomatoes were so sweet and the smoked tomato vinaigrette was killer.
The dish I knew I had to get was their signature fried mortadella sammy with cherry peppers, cheese, dijonnaise sauce , and shredded escarole. I’ve never had a thick slice of mortadella pan fried but it was delicious. My only criticism was that I would have liked less of the cherry peppers as the acidity was slightly overpowering. I really wanted the mortadella, cheese, and dijonnaise sauce to shine.
The meal ended off strong with this decadent fudgy brownie with a butterscotch halvah sauce and crunchy cocoa nibs. Flakes of sea salt added that nice salty bite to counteract the sweetness.
Everything from the atmosphere, drinks, and food was a wonderful experience. I can easily see how people can spend hours here sipping their wines or low proof cocktails as it’s such a cool spot so my rating is an 8.5/10.