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Week in Reviews: Tinderbox Impresses, Avenue G Doesn't

Welcome back to the Week in Reviews. Michael Bauer has Halloween off—he's getting his cowboy costume ready for tonight—but we've still got plenty of reviewdom to go around. Reidinger reveals the city's newest destination to be Tinderbox, while Brody reinforces the Eater Deathwatch Committee's thoughts on the horror that is Avenue G. And those are just the first two reviews. Buckle up.

2007_10_tinderbox.jpg
Newman Archives, 10/17/07

1) Paul Reidinger makes the excursion to Tinderbox in Bernal Heights, where he can't resist comparing the new kid on the block to the established restaurant on Cortland Avenue, Liberty Cafe:

[Tinderbox Chef Blair] Warsham's food is also wildly un-Liberty-like. While both kitchens bow to the gods of the local and sustainable, Tinderbox's ethos is one of bold innovation. Warsham stops short of festooning his dishes with foams and gelees but isn't at all shy about unlikely combinations — most of which (to perfect our theme of unlikeliness) work.
From the "unusual harmony" of several off-the-wall dishes (e.g., figs and beets) to more austere dishes, Tinderbox largely succeeds in its daring ascension to the top of the Bernal Heights. And it's definitely worth the trip. [SFBG]

2) Up next, we have Meredith Brody at Avenue G, our very own Deathwatchee, and boy, is it ugly. Parents, you may want to shield your children from this one:

We hadn't consulted [the waitress] on the fish dishes, but we thought both the ones we tried were pretty much a disaster. The salmon came plopped unattractively in a white bowl, set on a white plate with a pile of fried shrimp alongside. The shrimp were hard, salty, and overcooked. The salmon, in a horror of a sweet glaze, was mushy and salty, sitting in something identified as lobster sage broth, with, apparently, green madras olives, sun-dried tomato puree, artichokes, and Spanish rice — but the combination tasted mostly metallic. The sea bass feijoada was similarly unpleasant: mushy-textured fish heaped on a messy, salty accumulation of what the menu called drunken black beans, linguica, acorn squash, and cumin-scented caramelized onions. I love linguica. I love cumin. In several bites, I could taste neither.
Other details from the carnage include butter that smells like the fridge, "careless" desserts, "wacky-sounding ingredients" and a menu that features upwards of a dozen different cuisines. Lesson be learned: kindly refrain from choosing your dishes from Rand McNally. [SF Weekly]

3) Pinch-hitting at the Chron is Amanda Gold, who has a pair of stars for Sunset standby Bistro 9:

But the quaint restaurant, just off Golden Gate Park in the Sunset District, embodies the qualities of a solid neighborhood restaurant - familiar, welcoming service; cozy, accessible atmosphere; a bevy of menu options; and good value. If you live close by, it's bound to become part of the dinner routine.
The best part of the homey bistro? The unexpectedly inventive side dishes like the beet salad or white beans. [Chron]

Elsewhere, Mme. Tablehopper enjoys the "glimmering beauty" of Spruce, despite the quasi WASP-y vibe. But that burger does rock her world. Becks & Posh, as mentioned yesterday, hearts the small plates (and more) at Scott Howard, and the Guardian's Amber Peckham says despite the maritime inclinations, Sushi Boat Restaurant ain't all that bad.

Spruce

3640 Sacramento Street, , CA 94118 (415) 931-5100 Visit Website

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