photo credit: Carly Hackbarth
Bix is an old-school restaurant where you wouldn’t bat an eye if you saw Francis Ford Coppola talking through movie scripts with his team, and a couple in mink coats signing divorce papers. There’s live jazz every night. Ordering a martini is a requirement. And even though the food at Bix can only very loosely be described as “good,” we love this classic institution dearly.
What the swanky two-story American spot in Jackson Square lacks in mind-blowing food it makes up for a hundred times over in character. The Art Deco-style dining room is like time-traveling to a 1930s supper club, even though Bix only opened in 1988. Waitstaff in buttoned-up vests will drop off free bread rolls with the flourish of John Turturro in Mr. Deeds, and sneak you an order of succotash on the house. The piano and cello duo is set up under a large painting of a lovestruck butler (the very same one that inspired this David Arquette short film). And there’s a mural of a lively dance floor that spans the length of the bar, which is more stocked than a fraternity house basement. Slide into a seat to admire the martini glasses chilling atop a huge mound of shaved ice, or mysteriously sip on a negroni like a disgraced heir plotting an elaborate jewelry heist.
Like we said, the decidedly solid food is not the reason you eat at Bix. The caesar comes out soggy, and the shrimp cocktail is more or less forgettable. Heartier mains, like a grilled pork chop and seared duck breast with summer squash, are decent, although nothing to write home about. But somehow, we don’t mind. We don’t come to Bix for a perfectly cooked burger or the best steak tartare in the city. We come to soak in the white tablecloth vibes, drink boulevardiers in a ridiculous and lovable space, and romanticize life while a cellist in a tie serenades us. On all those fronts, Bix delivers.
We’re sorry to report that this caesar is soggy. But enough jazz and strong martinis will make anything taste better.
Classic Shrimp Cocktail
Exactly what you’d expect from a shrimp cocktail. Nothing more, nothing less.
Black Truffle Cheese Burger
We’re not sure exactly what compelled Bix to serve this burger open-faced, with only one side of crustless seeded wheat bread and a slab of grilled onion on top. But the confusing dish at least makes for pretty good table conversation as you try to figure it out. The patty has a weirdly gummy consistency. You can skip this.
Grilled Duroc Pork Chop
The slightest bit dry, but one of the better entrée options on the menu. What tops it changes seasonally, so you might get nectarine chunks one night and slow-roasted tomatoes the next.