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Week in Reviews: A Tres for Chez TJ, Plus Yoshi's and Epic

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Bed-and-breakfast or fine dining? [Photo: Flickr/chunkielove]

In a bit of a sequel to last week's big 3.5-star review of Christopher Kostow's new gig at Meadowood, The Tower of Bauer revisits another Michelin two-star in Mountain View's Chez TJ, where Bruno Chemel has taken over nicely for the aforementioned Kostow:

His style is different - he learned macrobiotic cooking in Japan - and he uses his varied background to surprise and seduce diners ... On the other extreme, many combinations are subtle, with the flavors melding into one unified taste. In some cases, it leaves me longing for a little bigger portion ... There's no mistaking the French gestalt, but the Asian touches add surprise and subtlety. In fact, at times the flavors are almost too subdued; when the portions are small, the intensity can be ramped up.
While the review is nowhere near the Meadowood rave last week, Bauer gives it a respectable albeit unexcited three stars, even though he still isn't keen on the bed-and-breakfast atmosphere down there in MV. [Chron]

For the June issue, thoroughly unimpressed Josh Sens shares his thoughts on Yoshi's, and in a doozy of a review, things get a little messy: "Given the size and scope of the menu, with its varied preparation styles and refined presentations, you can't help wondering: How can the kitchen pull this off? The answer is, it can't. At least not in measured time. On my visits, dishes were delivered to the unsteady rhythms of an erratic drummer, without explanation or apology ... For all the talent and lofty intentions on display, Yoshi's-the-restaurant is, in the end, a warm-up act for the main attraction next door." [SF Mag]

After getting handed—and turning down—a crappy table at Epic Roasthouse, Meredith Brody has nothing but nice things to say about Kuleto's steakhouse, which "approaches divinity": "With the main courses, everything kicked into high gear. What I look for first in a restaurant is a dish that makes me want to order it again, and everything else we had that night fell into that hallowed category. At lunch, I'd really only been quite as enthralled with two dishes: a hanger steak ($25) with a red heart under a tasty grilled crust, swimming in béarnaise, and an almond brown-butter cake ($10) with toffee sauce and fresh cherry compote ... But tonight I was in love: with the luscious full-flavored prime rib" [SFW]

Always one to love sustainable seafood, Paul Reidinger does some preaching at Pacific Heights sushi newbie Tataki: " holes-in-the-wall go, Tataki isn't bad looking. The real interest lies in the menu ... each menu entry includes information on how the fish were obtained. Many are farmed, and while aquaculture raises all kinds of uncomfortable issues about pollution, antibiotics, and food-chain inefficiency, it does offer one inarguable virtue: aquaculture helps protect wild fish populations from collapse." [SFBG]

THE ELSEWHERE: William Brand doles out very high marks to Hopmonk Tavern in his second visit, Petaluma Indian restaurant Namaste gets the same two stars handed to Orson earlier in the week (huh.), the Merc's Aleta Watson has 2.5 stars for Santana Row's Roux Louisiana Kitchen, the EBE enjoys the part-restaurant, part-interactive museum of Berkeley's Imperial Tea Court, and SF-Lunch just loves a FiDi lunch splurge at Mexico DF.