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Week in Reviews: Brody Goes Down South

Christine Kesler, 10/16/07

Meredith Brody kicks off her new year in a big way, as she pretty much gives a thumbs down on South Food & Wine Bar. From the get-go, it's clear that she's working on a different wavelength than the ModOz newcomer:

I was slightly troubled by a glimpse of black upholstered benches — I crave lumbar support while I dine — so it was imperative that we snag one of the tables featuring inviting cream-colored modern cafe chairs.
The Brody bombs continue to drop during the meal:
Our main dishes seemed uniformly overthought and overwrought, surprisingly so because the presiding chef, Luke Mangan, features much simpler recipes on his Web site ... Friendly Aussie and Kiwi accents abound from the waitstaff as well as the co-owners, Australian Liz O'Connell and New Zealander Anna Weinberg, but our server was American, chilly, and unhelpful.
Curse those American servers! There were, however, some winners—namely, some hits with the entrees (the snapper and lamb) and Mangan's signature dessert—but overall, Brody seems disappointed with her introduction to Australian cuisine. [SFW]

Paul Reidinger goes global at Cafe Andree, where the Euro fare and feel overcome his Middle American dining neighbors: "The question, then, is whether Cafe Andree is a nicely tricked-out expense account joint or a bona fide interesting restaurant or, possibly, both. The prices, certainly, are worthy of the Union Square neighborhood. Many first courses cost well into the teens, while main courses cluster in the mid- to upper 20s. For those kind of bucks, we expect some serious bang, and lo! Cafe Andree delivers it." [SFBG]

The Guardian's Paula Connelly stops by the Financial District's Chiaroscuro, where despite some questionable pricing and portioning, she experiences a fairly flawless meal, with the polenta stealing the show: "The prices are considerable and the portions are small, but the food is both simple and solid: there's no gray there." [SFBG]

Carol Ness crosses the Bay to visit Dona Tomas, the restaurant that jump-started the now-trendy Temescal neighborhood. Even though the owners have opened other restaurants since Dona's inception, it remains as good as ever and worthy of 2.5 stars: "Usually when I leave Dona Tomas, memories of the food don't follow me out the door, where people waited for our seats. But this time, I found myself looking forward to another bowl of the sopa, and the leftover tostada I took home. And that's a good sign for the flagship of a burgeoning Schnetz-Savitsky restaurant empire." [Chron]

ELSEWHERE: Amanda Gold has two stars for the decade-old Seafood Peddler, Ms. Tablehopper gets trendy at Farina ("our pop star restaurant opening of 2007"), the Bunrab crew is disappointed at Sol Food and the Merc's Aleta Watson is at Cupertino's Red Crane.