James Newman, 12/14/07
We'll get to Bauer's trip to Healdsburg in a bit, but let's get the ball rolling with Ms. Meredith Brody at 1300 on Fillmore. A fan of the well-trained (and traveled) chef/owner David Lawrence, Brody experiences some ups and downs at the new soul food biggie:
At its best, Lawrence's food is classic and satisfying. Triangles of cornbread, enfolded in a linen napkin, come to the table still warm, served with butter and slightly hot red-pepper jelly. They are cheerfully replenished. A simple dish of lightly sautéed wild mushrooms with fresh herbs arrives on a bed of silky hominy grits...Desserts—and drinks in the lounge—are more successful, and Brody gives 1300 a thumbs-up overall, and also gives us the best, most random line we've heard in a while: "Walking into 1300 is like entering a chocolate box: not a Whitman's sampler, but a box made of chocolate." Huh. [SFW]
Fried chicken should be a draw, made with Fulton Valley Farms organic birds, but those birds have been boned. No matter how crisp the coating and how carefully it's been fried, boneless fried chicken isn't as juicy as chicken cooked on the bone, and 1300's, though served with truffle whipped potatoes and a light pan gravy, doesn't win us over.
The Bauer Update is a two star affair, and a scathing one for Barndiva, as he strips the Healdsburg restaurant of an entire star for food (and of a half star overall). Here's a sampling of the carnage, which Bauer paints as amateur hour: "Barndiva is an anomaly in many ways. I appreciate its unique vibe, but at times it feels like a pretend restaurant. Owners Jil and Geoffrey Hales have an artistic bent that extends to the staff, some of whom seem like they're part of an improv group. The owners' creativity is also evident in the interior, which has wire sculptures on the walls, and art glass on the counters. However, professionalism isn't one of the attributes. After sitting through a meal, I still had the feeling this restaurant was more of a hobby than a serious enterprise. There's a large staff, but not a lot of direction ... at Barndiva, expectations need to be adjusted. Clearly, it's a restaurant with a laissez-faire, bohemian attitude." [Chron]
Paul Reidinger takes his turn at CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen, and reaffirms the Market Street destination's successful duality as legit restaurant and top notch wine bar: "But you could also, if you were inclined, step into CAV and eat food while not drinking wine, and you wouldn't necessarily think you were missing out. Of course, the people at CAV don't want you to sunder food and wine, since the whole point of the restaurant is to bring them together — with wine first among equals, for once. But it's a tribute to chef Michael Lamina's kitchen that the wine-friendly food can stand on its own. This is a nice corollary to one of my own cherished postulates: that many food-friendly wines are quite good on their own." [SFBG]
ELSEWHERE: Las Hopper does her antipodean thing at South, the Chron's Mandy Erickson drops a deuce on magnificent mezes at Pleasanton's Agora Bistro, the Merc's Aleta Watson stops by Palo Alto's Jin Sho, and Michael Bauer's Sunday review had 2.5 stars for Local.