The Cleveland Food scene just got better thanks to Bac.

Luckily located just three blocks exit off of the treacherous I-90 innerbelt bridge, this restaurant has some easy access for us east-siders. 

Now I know your vehicle inexplicably pulls toward Sokolowski’s University Inn, but aim your car to Bac.  

Whiners often say, “But what about parking?!!?!” Right on. Our parking was easy thanks to the snow.  

“A casual bistro with a full bar and outdoor patio.” Well, I’d like to think there was a full patio, but snow sucks, and we had a comfortable warm table inside last night.  

At the bar, on tap, had a great Morimoto Soba Ale from Rogue Ales Brewery. Yes, that’s the same Iron Chef Morimoto from Food Network. Nice to see something different from the norm on tap…ie #HappyinCLE ? Attention all other bars, stop carrying Budweiser on tap-wasted good tap space.  

Morimoto Soba Ale

 Bunch of other beers to choose from and a simple bar made it easy to choose other standard liquors such as burbons, vodkas, etc….Good bar mojo.  

Being only open 2 weeks, we figured there would be disorganization, lack of staff, you know-the basics of opening a new restaurant…the place was running like a well oiled machine! Kudos.  

Being a bunch of neerdy foodies, we preplanned and researched the place prior aka looked at the menu online…So we knew what we wanted. And yes, watching No Reservations Vietnam (Travel Channel) and A Cook’s Tour (Food Network) with Anthony Bourdain earlier this week, helped solidify our decision.

Appetizer-1 of edamame $3? Done.  

Unlike other stuffy pretentious restaurants, Bac served just the edamame itself. Perfect.  

On to appetizer-2: Banh Mi Sandwich. PLEASE!  

Almost like the hot dog is to America, the Banh Mi Sandwich has influences from the villagers off the Ho Chi Min Trail to the cobble stone streets of France…..screech the record…cause I said France. That’s right, during the occupation of Vietnam many moons ago, the French brought many of their influences where they travel. This one should definitely not be missed.  

Until recently, this sandwich has sat dormant in the back foodie memory, a recent a Banh Mi sandwich has triggered the lust for this complex sandwich from the gods. Roast pork, ham, sausage, pate, picked radish, carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, mayo, au jus from who knows where are your typical ingredients. I even remember Bourdain and his former boss Philippe LaJaunie going halfsies on with a fried egg on it. Egg sluts. This Banh Mi offering from Bac-definitely don’t miss cause. It. Was. So. Damn. Good.    

Banh Mi Sandwich from Bac

 We would have liked to see more carrots, cilantro, and beef au jus soaking in the baguette (so it runs down my arm), but hey – it was our “appetizer”.   

What I envisioned the almost perfect American soil made Banh Mi to look like? Thanks Steph @momofukufor2   

Banh Mi from momofukufor2

 But maybe that’s for a “sandwich only” meal…Maybe I need to go to Vietnam…Or just another QLF blog post.   

Stopping by the table, the proprietor Bac himself made an appearance. Glad to see the main man show up and REALLY asking how things were. Nice guy and pretty cool. Bac soon departed to take our plates away as I scanned the horizon of the rather large seating area for our meal. I was giddy with excitement after our sandwich from heaven.   

The ubiquitous classic, and our measurement of any good Thai restaurant, is the Pad Thai. Many places have played their hand on this classic, but here in Cleveland, we haven’t found a suitable place worthy of recomending….yet. Bac is at the door pounding to get in.   

Housing your typical players of rice noodles, chicken, shrimp, napa cabbage, bean sprouts, eggs, dill cabbage, carrots and crushed peanuts…lots of stuff in just one dish, but this is really what Pad Thai is all about. In scarfing down this dish, we detected oyster sauce…not a normal ingredient in Pad Thai (Chinese vs Thai), but it wasn’t overwhelming-just something not expected. Still the fresh bean sprouts, perfectly cooked noodles and crunchy cabbage made all the difference in this dish. We would have liked to see more green onions and cilantro, but we were too busy stuffing our faces.  Pretty sure I still have noodles stuck to my shirt.

Pad Thai from Bac

 Now the real deal, the main event, the prize fight: Pho.   

Just three simple letters evoc millions of mouths to water. Thousands of foodies profess their love for this bowl of goodness. Bourdain lists this as one of his death row meals.   

The classic Pho is made of rice noodles, paper thin slices of beef, onions, bean sprouts, basil, lime, scallions in a simmer all day beef stock broth that has more ingredients that you could ever list. The sinnamon was a nice touch since Saigon Cassia Vietnam Cinnamon is one of the best things you can add to a soup (thanks @TheSpiceHouse and Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode). Before I even took a bite, hand shaking, I was able to snap a picture of this bowl of awesomeness. Immediately after the picture, I thrust my head, nose touching broth, to truly envelop my face in the smell of the complexities of savory, salty, and sweet. Heaven folks.   

Pho beef noodle soup from Bac

 I wanted to dip my new friend Bahn Mi sandwich in the soup. Sadly, it was already gone.   

Shortly after polishing off everything and having to push back from the table, unbottoning my pants, the real chef came to our table…it was Bac’s mother. At 4’9″ she was the quintessential Asian mother that loves being in the kitchen. Prior to her employment for her son, she apparently owned a chinese restaurant in Rocky River for 14 years. Yes-that explains the hint of oyster sauce (How yeow) in the Pad Thai.

She jokingly said that if she doesn’t cook well, her son will fire her. Love the blunt commentary from old Chinese women as head chefs.

I peered at their business card again that stated “Featuring authentic Asian and fusion cuisine, along with Asian-inspired drink specials.” Now it all made Oyster sauce sense.   

Upon our departure, we saw John Petkovic eating. Ooooooo.   

Petkovic from the PD

 We thought it was strange cause he only rates dive bars. Bac is definitely NOT a dive bar. Does he look like this guy?   

Petkovic's other job

 So-If you can’t remember what I wrote, just remember the following 3 and 4 letter words when ordering:   

**Bac=banh mi, Pho, Pad thai, and beer**

Overall, a great place to go. High recommend as I am now contemplating going Bac there again this Saturday…craving the Pho.   

Bac   

2661 West 14th Street   

Cleveland, Ohio 44113   

216-938-8960   

www.bactremont.com

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