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Week in Reviews: Meadowood Gets a Lofty 3.5

Baueriffic makes a return visit to Meadowood, where one Michelin two-star chef (Joseph Humphrey) has been replaced by another in Christopher Kostow, late of Chez TJ. And as Bauer discovers, Kostow is thriving up in Napa:

He's doing even better. Kostow has worked out all the quirks and superficial embellishments from Chez TJ and settled into the role of a seasoned, mature chef, cooking in a casually elegant environment ... White geraniums dress up the window boxes that can be seen from the dining room and the dining terrace, where tables are set with crisp linens, sparkling crystal and gleaming flatware. It's a much more refined, sophisticated stage for his immense talents.
Not only is the result of Kostow's "elegant, newly found restraint" an upgrade from three to 3.5 stars, but the way the review reads, it seems like only a dessert misstep prevents Bauer from doling out those hallowed four stars in full, at least for the time being. [Chron]

Meredith Brody wastes no time at all in hurrying over to Anchor & Hope, open only for about a month, but even though she crashes the party a little too early for the review circuit, A&H already has a signature dish: "But the most delicious and rich starter was the warm sea urchin ($15). The presentation is unusual and alarming: a whole dangerously spiked urchin shell plopped on a stark white plate, but ah, the extraordinary and beautiful filling it contains: sea urchin roe, Dungeness crab, mashed potatoes, and diced, subtle aromatics. This is an irresistible signature dish, one of the most memorable things we've ever eaten." [SFW]

Paul Reidinger goes to Spork, where like so many reviewers before him, he recounts the history of the Mission hotspot and notes the new regime's changes: "The Sporkers (led by chef-owner Bruce Binn, whose distinguished vita includes stints at Delfina, Postrio, and Bix) are well aware of the past and, in a series of clever moves, have simultaneously embraced and distanced themselves from it ... Like a child determined not to repeat a parent's mistakes, Spork corrects for the culinary sins of KFC about as much as it possibly can. Yet Binn's food isn't at all precious or fussy. It's hearty and vivid — a glimpse of what all-American food might look like in a better world, or at least a better America." [SFBG]

THE ELSEWHERE: Las Hopper finds a view at Waterbar, The EBE enjoys the "affordable showcase" at Berkeley's Turkish Kitchen, The MIJ falls under the spell of wood-oven pizza at Point Reyes, Aleta Watson of the Merc is at Nick's on Main in Los Gatos, and Bauer's Sunday review dropped 2.5 stars on Luce.

[Meadowood photo courtesy]

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