Bailiwick Brings Out its Best for Brunch | Gaslamp's Newest Cocktail Lounge Offers a Sophisticated Weekend Offering

March 16, 2013

Still a baby by hospitality standards, Bailiwick thoroughly impressed on our visit to sample brunch dishes and cocktails from the Gaslamp's newest craft cocktail lounge and eatery.  Although the drinks come first, Bailiwick's frequently changing food menu offers elegant and creative dishes that demonstrate a passion for laboring culinary techniques and showcase the finest of locally sourced ingredients.  Stop in for a beverage and a bite and let Bailiwick show you something exceedingly beyond the ordinary.

Bailiwick opened its doors in January 2013, revamping the space previously occupied by the short-lived Alambres Mexican.  Bailiwick's ambiance oozes white, inside and out, and the converted space is reminiscent of that New England/Hamptons-chic, combined with a bit of NYC SoHo flare. Enter for brunch and you'll immediately be drawn to the cast iron bathtub filled with ice and bubbly - an homage to prohibition era ingenuity.  Behind the bar notice the white-washed exposed brick, a stuffed peacock, and an inspiring sign that reads: "work hard + be nice".  The opposite wall is white coffered with candle shaped light adornments.  The baby blue, concave, cathedral ceiling just ties it all together and solidifies the relaxed energy exuded by the decor.

Chef Konstantin Plavnik
Being that the food menu is designed to comfort and pair with the drinks, Executive Chef Konstantin Plavnik has established a monthly changing, minimalist menu, that while reserved in its offerings, has something for almost anyone (and allows for modifications).  Plavnik incorporates stylistic influences taken from his previous jobs at Busalacchi's A Modo Mio, Searsucker and Saltbox in developing his dishes, using seasonal and sustainable ingredients and playful combinations of flavors.  

"The menu changes because I like to play around with food.  It's my passion and my obsession. This is what I do,"  explained Chef Konstantin.  "I experiment, I taste it, I make sure that anything that I put out is good enough for my mother to eat."

We began by ordering the $15 bottomless mimosas (per person), not knowing that some stiff cocktails would soon be on the way.  Unlike the usual 'bottomless' special where the champagne is kept under close guard by a slippery server, Bailiwick provides a carafe of orange juice and a tabletop champagne cooler that are kept stocked throughout the meal.  Complimentary Ciroc Berry vodka-infused, frozen grapes are served to each table and are an amazing addition to the mimosa.

Both the cocktail and food menus are each separated into two sections - "Classics" and "Novels".  From the classics, we ordered The Best Thing About The French Toast ($8), a plentiful order of Challah French toast topped with Grand Marnier crema, each slice topped with a blackberry that has been soaked in agave simple syrup for 48 hours to make it perfectly sweet.  The dish lived up to hype and worked wonderfully for a Monte Cristo sandwich the next day (with maple turkey and Gouda).   

The Chorizo Stuffed Poussin ($10) came beautifully plated, with the succulent chicken sprawled atop a bed of chorizo on one end and mixed quinoa on the other.  All that is finished with a bourbon maple syrup to truly make the dish brunch-appropriate.  Every element of this dish was delicious and filled with flavor.

Packed with fresh vegetables, the Vegetarian Benedict ($10) comes in a skillet that sits atop a cutting board along with sides of fig jam, butter, and pumpernickel toast.  Unlike typical bennies, Bailiwick's version scarmbles the eggs with grilled tomato and layers with chard, asparagus, and burrata that is marinated in red chili flake oil for two days, then smattered the dish with lemon hollandaise.  Every bite seemed to have a different combination of flavors, which resulted in maintained excitement throughout consumption.  While it worked well for presentation, the toast is served dry on the side, and adding that the egg is scrambled as opposed to poached, the traditionalist in me really took issue with labeling it a Benedict.

We couldn't leave this cocktail lounge without sampling a few specialty drinks.  Like other craft cocktail aficionados, Bailiwick loves its gin.  From the classics, we were presented with a Southside ($12), combining Tanq 10 gin, simple syrup, lemon, mint, soda, and crushed ice to make a drink reminiscent of a Mojito.  Of the novel cocktails, we were served the Nolet's Nectar ($11) with Nolet's gin, agave nectar, lime, basil, grapefruit bitters, grapefruit juice, cucumber and one-inch cubed ice.  I'm neither a gin nor a cocktail aficionado, but both drinks were tasty, packed a punch and left me feeling loose!  Nice work.  And featuring 4 different cuts of ice taken directly from a monstrous block behind the bar, these mixologists understand the inrticate impact ice has on a cocktail.

We'll definitely return to Bailiwick, as I must try the Bailiwiches - a recreated version of the typical slider, served with homemade Belgian waffle buns, filet mignon and pancetta ground patty, and maple syrup aioli.  How good does that sound (and look)?!?

Bailiwick is located at 756 5th Avenue and you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

756 5th Ave., Gaslamp
(619) 795-3036

Weds. - Fri. 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Sat. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Bailiwick on Urbanspoon