If the Ferry Building Marketplace were a common collection of mall shops and restaurants, the MarketBar anchoring the south end would undoubtedly be a typical purveyor of beer, burgers and fried calamari.
Fortunately, the Ferry Building waterfront complex – the gem of the Embarcadero – actually is, among its other attractions, a flagship of the Bay Area’s artisan food movement – from the Hog Island Oyster Company to the Cowgirl’s Creamery Artisan Cheese Shop to, yes, the MarketBar.
This clubby spot in the shadow of the Bay Bridge has a seasonal Mediterranean menu featuring fresh ingredients sold at the Marketplace’s shops and farmers market food stalls. And it makes a real difference.
For example, MarketBar’s bread – like the pain epi – comes from Acme Bread Company, a Ferry Building food merchant. Fresh, crusty, bread made throughout the day by the top artisan bread maker in the Bay Area.
I ate my Acme bread as part of a great seared ahi tuna sandwich with caper aioli, roasted tomatoes and tapenade. The rest of our lunch table enjoyed the spicy meatballs, winter squash soup and the Beggar’s Banquet – a hearty soup accompanied by grilled Italian batard, local cheese and fruit.
In addition, I saw a seafood stew pasta dish and chicken potpie that made another lunch date at the MarketBar very attractive.
The restaurant has a wood-floored bar and grill interior that takes you back to the original days of the 1898 Ferry Building. Outside are sidewalk tables that offer both open-air dining and a chance to watch envious passers-by check out your entrees.