1) For the second consecutive week, Michael Bauer revisits a San Francisco heavy-hitter and strips away an entire star. This week, the honor goes to none other than Newsom flagship PlumpJack Cafe, downgraded from 3.5 stars to 2.5. According to Bauer, Tyson Greenwood (the restaurant's seventh chef in 13 years) is having some difficulties living up to the high 3.5-star standards set by his predecessor James Syhabout, now at Manresa. Most of the 12 items on the menu suffer from a lack of flair, and those that do intrigue aren't executed properly:
The shoyu-glazed skate wing ($26) held real promise. It was served with foie gras and sweetbreads dumplings, crisp sauteed maitake mushrooms and a poached egg. Unfortunately, the dish was barely warm - a small timing error that made a huge difference in terms of quality.Between the service issues ("almost too mechanical") and the lukewarm food (literally and figuratively), PlumpJack feels like it has "sacrificed soul for efficiency." [Chron]
2) Paul Reidinger tackles Palencia, quite possibly the city's only upscale Filipino restaurant. While it may appear that Palencia has the market cornered, it's actually pretty good too:
Chef Danelle Valenzuela's food matches up quite gracefully with the atmospheric setting. If your experience of Filipino cooking has heretofore been limited to eating fancified lumpia at Pres a Vi or the various tasty but plain adobos ladled over white rice at New Filipinas, you're likely to find that Palencia's kitchen has caught just the right tone. The dishes appear to be, by and large, authentic, but they are carefully prepared and plated, with dashes of artful juxtaposition.Despite Palencia's success, we will still continue to wonder why there aren't more Filipino restaurants. [SFBG]
3) Rounding out the big three, we have Robert Lauriston filing in for Meredith Brody at SF Weekly. As he does best, he heads to an ethnic eaterty; this time, the target is the recently-reopened Helmand Palace:
If you knew the old Helmand, rest assured that not much has changed. Reborn as Helmand Palace, it remains one of the few places in town that offers the winning combination of great food, a white-tablecloth atmosphere, and reasonable prices.Though the new staff has its working-out-the-kinks moments, Helmand Palace seems to have picked up right where the original left off. [SFW]
ELSEWHERE, we have La Tablehopper getting her "trench-dining" on at Mums Home of Shabu-Shabu, SFBG stops by San Bruno's Famous Rib Shack, the Chron's Mandy Erickson heads to Petaluma for fundamental Italian at Risibisi, and the Merc proclaims Original Joe's is back (no, not that one).