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Week in Reviews: Dinner in a "Brown Bat Cave," Bauer at Rex Cafe and MORE

Kesler Archives, 9/27/07

1) Rather than start things off with The Bauer, we turn to the Guardian, where Chris Demento stops by the Embarcadero Center's Sens, the upscale newcomer that took to the cursed former Monte Cristo space earlier this autumn. Let's just say the "California gothic spirits" weren't shining on the ambiance:

My hot date and I spent about as enjoyable an hour and a half as can be spent in a brown bat cave (without doing it in a corner) ... whatever beast it was left Sens with a nightmare dilemma on its hands: how to exorcise California gothic spirits of stone and brown and big buck hunting and death? Sens's answer? You don't. You just try to work around the problem, apparently, starting with strong gin and tonics and continuing with great food.
The good news, of course, is that the food is a winner all around ("a complete success"), but will it be enough to overtake the troubling location and "aesthetic hex" of that woeful Embarcadero Center space? [SFBG]

2) In his weekly update, Michael Bauer has 2.5 stars for Rex Cafe, which he declares to be one of the best bargains in town with former La Folie chef John Pauley in the kitchen:

I guess you'd say [the interior] has an organic feel. So does John Pauley's food. It's a great deal, particularly if you eat between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., where a two-course meal is $18. Even if you miss that window, you won't be disappointed. For the quality, it's one of the best deals in town.
Interestingly enough, were it not for spotty service, Rex Cafe may have sneaked into three star territory, as Bauer awards the food itself a trio. What can you say? The man enjoys his bargain eats. [Chron]

3) Paul Reidinger enjoys the "genuinely French aspect[s]" of Potrero Hill's Chez Maman, from the close quarters and the "crisp" service to the niçoise salad and croques monsieur to the ... quesadilla and guacamole?

If you accept the quesadilla as legitimate in a French (or French-plus) bistro, then you will also welcome, beforehand, guacamole and chips ($7). The guac is nicely chunky and lightly kissed by lime juice, but the fresh-from-the-fryer chips are a revelation — almost like pastry.
Odd as it sounds to have Mexican food in a fairly traditional bistro, it seems to work, making Chez Maman a neighborhood fave. [SFBG]

ELSEWHERE: Robert Lauriston fills in nicely for Meredith Brody at SF Weekly, as he gets his Yunnan on Z & Y Garden; Lady Tablehopper takes her turn at B Star Bar (the "well lit" offshoot of Burma Superstar); and Carol Ness has two shiny stars for Oakland Laotian restaurant Champa.

ON THE BLOGS: Passionate Eater stops by Boulevard, the Daily Feed is at hipster meeting point Ritual Coffee Roasters, and a Saucy Elf really, really has a thing for Thomas Keller's Vegas Bouchon.

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