1) There's not much reason for Michael Bauer to stumble into Union Square for a meal these days, but with a 20-year anniversary looming for Kuleto's, The Bauer decides a revisit is in order for the restaurant that boasted organic ingredients and housemade charcuterie long before they were trendy. That's the good news. The bad news, is well, everything else:
Lack of quality control also hijacked the vaunted charcuterie. I ordered the sampler ($9/$18) with pate, mortadella, coppa, head cheese terrine and bresaola. While some items tasted good, the soppressata crumbled like a dry cake and tasted rancid.More ouch:
The strawberry tart ($8) was inedible. The plate was dusted with powdered sugar (when was the last time you saw that kind of presentation?) and the custard was nowhere to be found. The crust resembled a thick biscuit with a sodden center stacked with strawberries, set on a puddle of under-sweetened whipped cream that was well on its way to becoming butter.There's much, much more carnage in the review—including the waitstaff's unapologetic tendency to upsell—that leads to the conclusion that the kitchen has simply stopped paying attention. The result: Kuleto's is dropped down to one star. [Chron]
2) It must be the holiday season approaching, because Meredith Brody also happens upon tourist hub of Union Square this week at Puccini and Pinetti:
I thought of the run of brilliant Italian places that have opened in San Francisco recently: Perbacco, La Ciccia, Bar Bambino, Farina, SPQR. Puccini and Pinetti is charging as much or more as they do (mains run $20-$29), and for much less ambitious and interesting food. But it's located in a nest of hotels, and finding the other places requires a little research, reservations, and transportation.While she—quite brilliantly, if we may say so—describes the cuisine as "a little Rachael Ray: Italian lite through an American filter," Brody accepts Puccini and Pinetti as what it is: a convenient tourist destination serving up decent, overpriced food. [SF Weekly]
3) Paul Reidinger ventures out into the Sunset for a bit of deja vu at Bistro 9, the cozy Ninth Avenue eatery with an uncanny resemblance to longtime neighborhood staple Park Chow. But, as Reidinger soon discovers, Bistro 9 and Park Chow are in fact, two different restaurants:
The sense of parallel universes is strong, then, if subtly skewed at points. The restaurants share a layout, look, and crowd — young, UCSF-ish, collegiate and postcollegiate — but they part company, congenially enough, in the matter of food. Park Chow tilts toward the Italian, whereas Bistro 9 (which opened late in the summer and is a sibling of the Citrus Club) finds its bliss farther east, in the methods and flavors of the Middle East.With Park Chow still going strong and some worthy newcomers already arrived and forthcoming, might the Sunset be a rising gourmet ghetto? Bernal Heights, you've been warned. [SFBG]
ELSEWHERE, La Tablehopper checks out onetime rowdy dockworker bar 83 Proof and approves its makeover. Amanda Gold has 2.5 stars for Santa Rosa's Syrah, Amber Peckham and the SFBG's Dine Pick succumb to Italian in North Beach at Trattoria Pinocchio and finally, a certain Single Guy gets his fro-yo on at Jubili.