Communal eating is at the heart of this fine-dining dinner party. Lazy Bear may have its origins as an underground phenom, but today anyone can try to score a seat. That is, after jumping through a few virtual hoops: buy a ticket in advance and wait for an e-mail listing house rules to be followed in earnest. Rest assured this is all worth the effort.
The nightly tasting menu is dished out in a cool, bi-level warehouse and starts upstairs in the loft with aperitifs and snacks, like tempura beer-battered maitake mushrooms with a sour cream and onion dip or pig's head cheese with black truffle shavings. Then move downstairs to a dining room boasting two giant tree slabs as communal tables, each lined with 20 chairs. Diners are given a pencil and pamphlet informing them of the menu (with space for note-taking underneath) and are invited to enter the kitchen to chat with the talented cooks themselves. This leaves the young crowd dreamy-eyed with chef worship.
Highlights include smoked trout on a blanket of trout roe, sorrel and brown rice, or dry-aged Sonoma County duck with a wonderful sweet and bitter yin and yang, courtesy of fermented kumquat and partially scorched broccolini.