Christine Kesler, 9/27/07
In awarding 2.5 stars to the Embarcadero Center's Sens, Michael Bauer fawns over the restaurant's setting and personnel (example: "diners can be assured that whatever [Chef Michael Dotson] cooks will be good"), but curiously leaves a bit of ambiguity when it comes to the future of Sens: "Taking over a prominent space that has maintained a similar decor and housed several failed restaurants can be tricky, so Dotson's contributions are key. He's an experienced, talented chef, so I suspect the food will get even better as the staff becomes more seasoned. Even in its infancy it's clear that Sens deserves a long, prosperous run." [Chron]
The Wednesday dining update brings Bauer right around the corner from Sens to the recently Michelin-starred One Market. In accordance with the little French red book, Bauer finds nothing but glowing praise to say about Mark Dommen's overhauled One Market: "... all in all it's a brilliant menu, supported by professional servers dressed in white shirts and black vests, and a setting that overlooks the Ferry Building. The restaurant's interior ... can feel somewhat cold and corporate. Still, a re-do a few years ago, and the expansion in the neighborhood, have given One Market a more vibrant feel. In the end, though, it's Dommen's food that adds the warmth and personality." 3.5 stars is the final verdict. [Chron]
Hopping over to the weeklies, Meredith Brody is at Bar Johnny (once Tablespoon), and after musing on the small plates phenomenon, she finds Bar Johnny's food offerings firmly on the lackluster side: "The lamb braise on toast had an odd element of bitter greens, and I found myself wishing the toast were mashed potatoes or polenta. This seemed more like discomfort food than comfort food, especially when the housemade marshmallow pie we ordered for dessert, which we had envisioned as a big, sloppy moon pie, turned out to be two chilly underflavored little cookies side by side." Also, we have yet to decipher the last line of the review. Non sequitur? Egg nog talking? Anyone? [SFW]
Josh Sens takes a ride up to Nick's Cove and awards Pat Kuleto's picturesque "shack" a pair of stars: "If there's a more beautiful setting for a meal, it probably exists on another planet, or along a lovely stretch with even tighter restrictions on development ... this is not a restaurant to linger in after dark. It's a place to see as daylight wanes, mist begins to whisper on the water, and shadows push their fingers through the trees. There by the bay, you can sip champagne, slurp oysters, and toast a welcome act of preservation." [SF Mag]
ELSEWHERE: Carol Ness goes across the Bay to Levende East, awarding it two stars and declaring the rebirth of Old Oakland in the process. Nicholas Boer of the CC Times stops by Carlos Santana's Maria Maria and doles out three stars for the celebrity endeavor, while Bits and Bites digs into beignets at Brenda's.