Jennifer Yin, 1/18/08
Monk's Kettle made a cameo on Bar Bites a few months back, but the ten-month-old joint gets a formal Chron review today from Amanda Gold. Gold notes the extreme popularity of the 16th Street gastropub, proclaiming beer and simple fare to be the recommended path:
The fancier [chef Kevin] Kroger gets, the more the dishes tend to suffer. The skirt steak ($19.50) was flabby, difficult to cut, and not cooked to the requested medium, and the pork chop ($20) came out dry, although it was partly saved by the accompanying white cheddar scallion potato cake ... you can't go wrong with a good beer - it's what the Monk's Kettle does best. With the winning list and a little more focus in the kitchen, the gastropub should have a permanent home in the neighborhood.The sandwiches, burger, fries and such all get high marks, but though friendly, service is below par, and along with the menu misses, Monk's Kettle gets the two star treatment, albeit with the prediction of a long tenure. [Chron]
Today's other Chron review is a Peninsula affair, with Palo Alto's MacArthur Park getting an update (and upgrade from its prior '05 deuce) earning 2.5 stars from Miriam Morgan: "In the kitchen, [Faz] Poursohi has freshened up many of the MacArthur Park classics ... It made for an entire experience that was much improved from The Chronicle's last Update visit three years ago. There's new life in the old building - and that's a pleasure to see." [Chron]
Perhaps sensing the need to hype the cursed space before it claims a new victim, Paul Reidinger takes a crack at Janitzi, even though it's only been open about a month: "The space remains as appealing (to me, at least) as ever ... Serving a pan-American cuisine is such a self-evidently good idea it's a wonder we don't have many such places — but at least we have this one ... And after being cooked up in the large exhibition kitchen at the rear of the dining room, [the menu is] served in various portion sizes, at reasonable prices, on stylish modern tableware, spare white but with sexy undulations." [SFBG]
Meredith Brody goes to Marnee Thai, where her mouth likes everything and empty boxes remind her of deliciousness: "Over and over, my mouth is thrilled by exciting, fresh flavors in thoughtful combinations: fragrant lemongrass; peppery, gingerlike galangal; verdant sawtooth leaves, aka Thai coriander; and sweet kaffir lime leaves ... When we exit Marnee Thai and see numerous produce boxes, broken down and neatly bound for recycling, I'm reminded of all the superb fresh ingredients..." [SFW]
THE ELSEWHERE: Like most others, the PressDem loves the unique direction that Eloise is going in Sebastopol, The EBX gives an encouraging thumbs-up to Miss Pearl's Jam House, The MIJ is at Thepmonggon Thai in Tomales Bay, The CoCo Times realizes that Mario's Steak & Chop House in Livermore is in fact a mall restaurant, Team Bunrab uncovers happy hour gems at Serpentine, Lady Hopstress does cozy French at L'Ardoise, and last but not least, the Chron Sunday review had 2.5 stars for Alameda's Acquacotta.