Part wine bar, part cheese bar, part French bistro and part closed door Japanese restaurant, Dear Bar du Marché, here’s a big fat sloppy wet beso bienvenido to the neighborhood. Praise to the sashimi-loving charcuterie gods, this adorably charming go-to spot breaks from the Palermo Hollywood bruncheando-café Nicaragua street norm and offers a petit piece of Paris with a secret sushi sampling on the side.Oh, how I’ve longed for that all-in-one spot where I can grab a quick (and good tasting) morning coffee, brunch it up on the weekends, stay for the well priced and delicious lunch special-sandwich-café menu, continue the fun with a cheese and wine-filled WiFi work merienda session and extend my welcome for French inspired bistro specialties or a top sushi grade puerta cerrada dining experience.Bar du Marché is a place where wine lovers, wine wannabes and plain old winos can come together in wine-derful harmony. Sometimes I just don’t understand why a city that shows so much love for their vino tinto is really lacking in the wine bar department. Luckily this small Hollywood haven has become a quick fix for the 5′oclock afternoon wine-cheese cravings, that I’m sure overcomes us all. So what’s so great about this wine bar? It’s one of the only spots in the city that offers a large selection of carefully chosen wines by the glass, rather than wines by the bottle, with 50 different labels to be exact, a rarity in this bottle-centric town.Since most spots only offer a handful of wine choices available by the glass, it’s refreshing to have a place that specializes in the smaller sips, giving drinkers the chance for just a taster, full glass or wines by the bottle for all price ranges. They get most of their wines from Siete Spirits, a wine store neighbor that specializes in New World wines. Think a mix of Australian, New Zealand, South African wines, with some Italian and lesser known high end Argentine and Chilean wines.You’ll probably need some cheese (and cured meat) to go with that wineywhine. Order from their special premium selection, trying cheesy types like gouda, gruyere and gorganzola, ranging from the cheesing animal trifecta: goat, sheep and cow’s milk.I’m a big fan of their tasting menu where the sommelier chooses three wines (tasting size pour) to pair with three cheeses of his choice (80 pesos). It comes with a little plate of olives, pickles, bread (warning: sometimes it’s stale) and high quality olive oil for dunking.On to equally important things: the food. In the morning Bar du Marché offers the standard café staples, a bit elevated, with the coffee (Nespresso), medialunas, tostadas (with bread from L’epi) and juice biznass, with a brunch on Sundays. For lunch during weekdays, in addition to their salads-sandwich-tarta-sushi menu, they have a pretty solid lunch special that includes main dish, water, small glass of wine and dessert. I’ve had some hits and misses during the lunchtime menú ejecutivo, finding that some days there are fabulous specials, like great fish dishes or chicken, while other days the offerings are a bit less interesting. For example, the tarta with panceta and puerros was pretty killer — buttery, flakey, creamy and bacony.Pasta salad is one of those dishes probably not restaurant ordering worthy, since it’s not that difficult to make. While I probably wouldn’t order it again, I was super satisfied with the large bowl of grilled Italian vegetables, spinach and PENNE pasta. Teeheehee.The wok had less success, and while the crispy salmon chunks might have been one of the most flavorful, best cooked salmon I’ve had in the city, the rice wok mixture was a bit meh, lacking flavor. Rule of thumb: stop ordering woks and pasta salads at restaurants, they are almost always disappointing.
The daily specials come with dessert, and in my case I ordered mediocre cheesecake with a strange hard and grainy consistency. Already not in the mood for something sweet, I ordered it out of pure cheapo-fatdom, since it’s annoyingly not possible to be substituted for coffee.Going the café-sandwich route, they offer a number of great sandwiches, like the sophistically simple ham and butter combo and a burger with fries that looks legit. A more refined French spin on my fave Jew sandwich, the pastrami with tomatoes confit had salty yet sweet addictive quality where each bite had equal parts tomato-pastrami ratio. When I first found out that they served French bistro food PLUS a sushi menu, I thought it was quite weird. Choose one or the other, but why both? Generally the best sushi restaurants specialize in sushi, and just that. It’s rare to find a great sushi spot that also serves pasta, milanesas and Chinese food — and yes, these places do exist. But Bar du Marché seems a bit different, bringing ex-sushihombre from sister restaurant M Buenos Aires in San Telmo, Fabian Masuda, to take over the second story with his closed door restaurant Omakase. A secret staircase behind a hidden trap door to the left of the bar leads to the Japanese closed door haunt, which has one communal table that seats 12 (reservation only). Omakase means “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese, “let chef decide” or “in chef we trust.” It’s a common expression at many sushi restaurants as it leaves the selection of the meal in the chef’s hands, letting him take full control to wow and please with a five course tasting menu, a Peruvian-inspired Nikkei mix of fresh quality items like sushi rolls, sashimi, tiraditos, tempura, spring rolls, soup and Japanese style platitos. I have yet to try it myself, so cannot personally attest to the sushi-nikkei greatness, but reliable sources give it a thumbs up.The staff is super knowledgable and friendly. Skilled sommelier Juan Pablo Villar has quite the knack for selecting wines, and even a more remarkable skill at remembering which wine you drank during your last visit. But perhaps a downside, especially for us tall grandote freaks-o-nature, the place is small, with only about 10 tables that are a bit cramped and close together, PRIME for eavesdropping aficionados, not so hot for long legged Lurches. But it’s still ideal to grab a table outside on my favorite tree-lined Nicaragua street, go for the lunch special, or order an afternoon glass of wine, some quesos to picar.
Bar du Marché
Nicaragua 5946, Palermo Hollywood
Sun & Mon: 11am-6pm, Tue-Sat: 9am-close
Reservations recommended (dinner)
Reservation only for Omakase