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Food

What we’re into: the vegetarian French onion soup from Bar Restaurant

French onion soup at the new Bar Restaurant in Silver Lake.
The mushroom-loaded soupe à l’oignon from Bar Restaurant in Silver Lake.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

As inevitable as the circle of life, French food is currently enjoying a rebirth in Los Angeles.

So it’s no wonder that French onion soup has been popping up on more and more menus. It raises the question: Is French onion soup the finest of all soups? A strong case could certainly be made. It’s delicious, it’s Instagrammable as well as très chic (very classy). And whereas a traditional version of the soup incorporates the four major food groups — meat (beef stock), vegetable (onion), grain (bread) and dairy (Gruyère) — at Bar Restaurant, the functionally named ... uh, bar and restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, a meat-free version contends for best in the city.

Unlike the bubbling, umber-brown baked crock at Dear John’s and the scorched porcelain tureen from Petit Trois (Bar Restaurant’s executive chef Douglas Rankin used to be culinary director at Trois Mec and Petit Trois), the $20 soup at Bar Restaurant comes in a large, plain bowl and is swimming with — sorry to all you veal-loving purists out there — hen-of-the-woods and yellow oyster mushrooms.

The umami-rich mushroom- and onion-based broth is transfused with kombu, and the toothsome hen-of-the-woods play well off the velvety onions, their earthiness anchoring the sweet nuttiness of the Gruyère.

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It’s worth ordering, if only because you, like me, can’t resist ordering F.O.S. whenever you see it on the menu. And you’re curious if a vegetarian version can hold its own against tradition. (Spoiler: It can.)

4326 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90029; (323) 347-5557; barrestaurant.la


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