Bond Street Social
Bond Street Social gets the buzz part right for sure
Published: December 14, 2011
Bond Street Social
901 S. Bond St.,  449-6234, bondstreetsocial.com
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Bond Street Social sure looks good. Burnished by warm colors, wood, and what some might call fireplaces but here are probably called fire elements, the sprawling former DuClaw Brewing space now feels like a contemporary Western lodge, warm and sleek, if not snug. Smoke from martinis enhanced with liquid nitrogen curls up from the bar past rock-filled wall elements hemmed in by chicken wire. Leather-clad bar stools yield a comfy perch at high four-tops just inside the main entrance; booths and conventional tables fill the dining room. Unfortunately, the propulsive beat of the sound system coupled with televisions and the chatter of meet-and-greet makes for a haze of white noise that renders conversation impossible. This is one loud space.
Although you can certainly style your evening at Bond Street to dinner and drinks—and a full house at both the bar and the dining area midweek shows that patrons do—this still feels like happy hour/after-hours central (80-oz. infusion jars of cocktails for sharing are available for $50), a place to drink and socialize first and eat second (possibly because of the aforementioned din) when you realize you need something in your stomach to counterbalance that cocktail.
The food is certainly set up for noshing. Bond Street Social offers a bevy of small plates served in portions that encourage sharing. Order fish and chips, and what comes is a long rectangular plate holding four pieces of cod (or whatever fish the kitchen is using that day) the size of chicken tenders perched on house-made tater tots atop a bed of very salty red cabbage slaw ($18). This arrangement is very, very smart logistically—it was the easiest experience I’ve ever had sharing small plates—but boy do the prices of these small plates add up, especially given the portion sizes.
The main menu is divided into five sections of mostly recognizable bar food with a twist, and all dishes come in portions of four. “Bites” are essentially appetizers: fish tacos, pigs in blankets made with Kobe beef dogs, and artichoke fritters, nicely browned on the outside but wet in the middle ($7). Duck spring rolls, crisp cigars of phyllo filled with shredded duck spiked with heat, fare better, though $12 for four small rolls plus dipping sauce seems high. The slightly more expensive foie gras pb&j ($14), nubs of foie gras layered on small toast points with pear slices and blackberry jam under a scatter of peanut brittle, is neither as weird nor as potentially interesting as it might be, depending on your point of view. The whole bite tastes of peanut butter and nothing else. Skip those and take your carbs in the form of the mini corn muffins with jalapeño butter that come to the table gratis.
Other menu sections include salads and sliders, the latter offering two portions of burgers, crab cakes, lobster roll, Reuben, and grilled cheese. There is a smattering of sides to order as extras, and then there is the “fork and knife” section, what most diners will consider entrees despite the shareablity, given the choices and prices. Think chicken and biscuits, miso-glazed salmon, lobster pot pie. Simple, but successful, are lamb meatballs ($14), served in the now popular cast-iron skillet. The accompanying feta cheese and preserved lemon aren’t terribly obvious in this dish, but it’s an honest rendition, not overwhelmed by its slightly sweet sauce. The same can’t be said for the sauce on the smoky baby-back ribs ($16), the sweetness of which simply overpowered the meat. Even giant onion rings, oddly tasteless and limp, couldn’t rescue this dish.
Service at Bond Street Social is friendly, not to mention super-fast. Diners are told that the food comes to the table in the order and at the rate at which the kitchen prepares it. On a busy evening, this means quickly. You can be eating tiny, candy-like brownies topped with salty caramel mousse ($6) and getting the bill on a busy evening in just over an hour.
As one would hope from a business that devotes multiple menu pages and square footage to beverage service, Bond Street’s bar offerings are its strength. Drafts include offerings from Rogue, Victory, Flying Dog, and Stone, and the bar makes respectable renditions of classic drinks like an old-fashioned ($10) as well as the showy liquid-nitrogen concoctions. When the weather warms, the restaurant’s outdoor patio will be a lovely spot to grab a table and a beverage and watch the sky change colors over the harbor.
Bond Street Social is open seven days for dinner plus Sunday brunch.
> Email Mary K. Zajac