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Week in Reviews: Fringale Keeps Its Stars, Plus O Izakaya, Alembic and More

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[Photo courtesy: Yelp/Toro E]

Despite losing Thierry Clement to L'ardoise late last year, the 17-year-old Fringale has kept the course with Mina/Ritz vet Tripp Mauldin in the kitchen. And for one Mr. Bauer, Fringale even trots out the made-to-order aioli, just the way MB—but maybe not his dining companions—likes it:

At our dinner, it took awhile for the aioli to arrive, but it tasted as if it were made to order - hot, with fresh, pungent garlic. I was reminded of its intensity after midnight when I awoke and still had the garlic taste in my mouth, and then again at 5 a.m. when I woke up to get ready for work. It took three brushings to banish the last trace, but it was worth it.

Unlike many restaurants that undergo ownership and chef changes, Fringale has stayed true to its roots, and the staff is filled with many familiar faces.

Some dishes have changed, of course, but the spirit prevails under Mauldin.

In the end, Fringale keeps its 2.5 stars on the basis of its "now-expected professional service" and reasonable prices (nothing over $25). Oh, and garlic. [Chron]

Robert Lauriston is at a new Bauer favorite, O Izakaya. Located in the Hotel Kabuki space that has previously housed flops such as Lord of the Balls, the Chip Conley-overhauled O Izakaya is aiming high to overcome the cursed space: "The menu is relatively sophisticated for an izakaya, and the space is decorated to match ... The first concrete sign of the kitchen's ambitiousness is the arrival of an amuse ... While it's easy to run up a fat tab, even those on a tight budget can enjoy the best of O Izakaya by sticking with the cheaper drinks and grilled items." [SFW]

Paul Reidinger looks past the spectacle at Alembic to the evolution of the modern bar that has busy cocktails and impressive food: "The bar is a spectacle, but it isn't there for show ... Because the front of the small space is dominated by the shrine-like bar, it's possible to overlook the dining area toward the rear. Here people are eating food, and it's surprisingly sophisticated food — sophisticated for a bar, sophisticated for the Haight, which despite or because of its international reputation is a little short on interesting places to eat." [SFBG]

The most entertaining piece of the week, hands down, belongs to Carey Sweet, who finds plenty of disasters in San Anselmo's Eat. The entire 1.5 star review deserves a look, but here's an excerpt about a lost, ADD-raddled chef: "For all his experience, [chef Tony] Kzaz clings to basics, with uneven results. Appetizers include typical buffalo wings ($7.95), and ahi poke ($9.95) drowning in soy sauce with diced sweet onions, a cap of wonton chips and spears of what looks and tastes like fried spaghetti ... It's a big question as who is paying attention in the kitchen, as every visit found chef Kzaz periodically wandering the dining room." [Chron]

ELSEWHERE: The Merc's Aleta Watson has 2.5 stars for San Jose's Picasso's Tapas, classics at Petaluma's Le Bistro are good enough for 2.5 Chron stars, and the tail end of last week saw Patricia Unterman stop by SPQR neighbor Florio and across the Bay, Nicholas Boer dropped three stars on Oakland's Jojo.

The Alembic

1725 Haight Street, , CA 94117 (415) 666-0822 Visit Website