San Francisco

The bar at Bar Agricole in San Francisco.
All photos courtesy of Bar Agricole

The RundownSan Francisco

Why the New Iteration of Bar Agricole Remains a San Francisco Pioneer (In New Ways)

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Now open in its beautiful new South of Market location is Bar Agricole, the revolutionary bar and restaurant that closed several years ago. While much of the ethos of the operation remains the same — namely its philosophy of celebrating producers and single-origin spirits — there is also much that is different, and forward-thinking in new ways, in this new incarnation, even beyond the new space. Here’s a quick primer on what to know about Bar Agricole, v. 2.0.

The design is, once again, special.

This new Mission Street location is a few blocks away from the original (which is now inhabited by Californios). The space was designed by Boor Bridges

“The ambition was the same as the original design,” says owner Thad Vogler, who cites both Japan and Scandinavia as design influences. “An adult feeling space that was built from simple materials with integrity. That’s the sensibility with drinks and food as well. Great raw ingredients, simply combined.”

 

It’s a restaurant, a bar, and a bottle shop.

Regulars at the old Bar Agricole will recognize some cocktails on the new list, and the overall feeling of the dinner menu (click here to view), which ranges from pickled vegetables and pig head fritters to smoked potatoes and a paprika-flecked grilled half chicken. As noted earlier: simple ingredients, expertly combined.

The spirits remain the centerpiece of Bar Agricole, and new to this incarnation is the ability to buy bottles on site, including many spirits used in their cocktails that are Bar Agricole products or exclusives. Among the first batch of Bar Agricole products are a biodynamic brandy from Marian Farms and a high ester rum from St. George.

Pro tip: You can also buy those bottles online and have them shipped.

The business is being run as a sociocracy.

Trying to build a better restaurant model is a part of the mission here, as outlined eloquently in this philosophy statement on the website.

All full-time staff at the company is paid the same ($72K plus benefits), Vogler included, and everyone shares both managerial responsibility and everyday tasks. There is no dishwasher, for example; that job rotates.

So far, it’s working well, says Vogler: “We’ve had no one quit and we are keeping great staff. I can honestly say it’s better than before. There is a feeling of buy-in that we’ve never had from the ground up. I don’t want to pretend it’s not a big challenge, though. It’s very hard to manage a business like this financially in San Francisco, though the transparency that we are practicing makes it less stressful I think.”

And there are some excellent private dining options.

If you’re in the market for a private dining situation, Bar Agricole has several options: The Package Room holds up to 34 guests for a seated dinner and up to 65 for a standing reception. St. Vincent’s Room seats up to 12 with optional sliding doors, and the Family Room is a large 10-person table next to the kitchen. Look for lots of special trade events, too, like Brandyfest coming up this month.