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Week in Reviews: Reidinger at Conduit, Bruni at Coi, More!

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With no Chron reviews today, we turn first to Paul Reidinger, the first major reviewer to take a crack at Conduit, the flashy New American in the quickly-developing northern Mission. Not only does Reidinger drop a very, very glowing review, but he compares Conduit (favorably, we might add) to some biggies in the process:

The restaurant, even in its fledgling days, already must be considered one of the premier spots on Valencia's still-burgeoning restaurant row; its peer group consists of Range, Limón, and perhaps Bar Tartine, and if only because of the extraordinary atmospherics of the interior design (the architect was Stanley Saitowitz), its sheen is brighter than theirs.

But let's not forget the appeal of chef Justin Deering's food either. The man and his staff work in an exhibition kitchen that stretches like a stage across the back of the restaurant, and the menu they're turning out is a seasonal California one, yes, like so many others, but with an emphasis on butter and cream that reminded me of Traci Des Jardins's early menus at Jardinière and of Nancy Oakes's at Boulevard.

Reidinger also gives Conduit props for its price point (a step below its "downtown" counterparts), people watching and "expert" noise management. All in all, a very encouraging introduction to the review circuit for Conduit. Now, let's wait and see what The Bauer has to say on the matter. [SFBG]

Frank Bruni, in the second installment of his road trip to the country's best new restaurants, stops by Daniel Patterson's Coi, #7 on his list. The verdict is not as glowing as you may have hoped for (service is a bit off), but even Bruni can't deny Patterson can cook: "I dabbed, inhaled and only then ate, from a bowl with a grapefruit and tarragon salad at the bottom, a grapefruit sorbet above it and, over that, a grapefruit mousse infused with black pepper and ginger. The process unequivocally heightened my attunement to the flavors. It also made me feel a little absurd. That's how it goes at Coi (pronounced kwa), which turns dining into art, into religion, into Chanel No. 5." Still en route for Bruni's top five in next two weeks is Ubuntu, so do stay tuned to the BruniChannel. [NYT]

Meredith Brody goes divey at Shanghai House, way out on Balboa and 37th Avenue: "As far as I'm concerned, the more really is the merrier at a Chinese restaurant, so you can sample and share lots of dishes. Calvin Trillin often insists on bringing a Chinese-speaking friend with him when he visits Chinese restaurants — or, failing that, a card printed with the Chinese characters for 'Bring me what they're having at the next table.' But everything we had at Shanghai House was so good, so fresh, so interesting, that we felt we could order off the menu with impunity — and without translation." [SFW]

ELSEWHERE: Earlier in the week, Bauer's Sunday review dropped 2.5 stars on the Dogpatch's Serpentine, the Guardian also checks out Tofu Village, the Trib is at Berkeley's Turkish Kitchen, and the MIJ says Hatam Persian Kabab House makes Marin feel like "a pleasant suburban neighborhood of a small Iranian city" (snicker).

ON THE BLOGS: Joy the Restaurant Whore has strong words for Fish & Farm, Fork & Bottle is at Rutherford's Auberge du Soleil, Chef Ben is at Icebee and Bits + Bites sits down with Christopher Elbow for some Q&A.


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