Simultaneously serving as evidence for the restaurant's unexplained deletion from the Top 100, the Farallon review you knew was coming finally drops. It's a tale of two visits: one where the critic goes unrecognized, the other where he gets ID'ed. Farallon predictably fires on all cylinders in the latter, but the former sees all types of carnage. Boom goes The Bauer:
I encountered lots of missteps in both food and service, which is unacceptable given the high prices - $34.50 to $42 for main courses. When a straightforward dish such as asparagus with a quail egg and a thin layer of Serrano ham and Meyer lemon vinaigrette is $15.50, the food needs to be perfect. If not, diners rightfully feel cheated; at least, that's how we felt.More ouch:
Since Farallon had the audacity to charge $18 for shrimp and scallop siu mai I figured the dumplings would be stratospherically delicious; it's a challenge to best some of the dim sum we have here, often at a quarter of the price. However, the siu mai were more like the ones at Panda Express. The mousse inside the chewy dumplings was rubbery, the hoisin vinaigrette was singularly sweet, and the roasted cauliflower florets, designed to set the appetizer apart, were smaller than a pine nut and had no effect on the overall flavor.The glory of the second, pampered visit saves Farallon from a disastrous, Waterbar-esque deuce, but it's a steep downgrade nonetheless, from 3.5 to 2.5 stars. [Chron]
Amanda Gold breaks out the deuce stamp for the overhauled Troya, where Aziza vet Randy Gannaway has given the Clement Street Turkish joint a more upscale vibe. Even though the review reads encouragingly, it's nowhere near a rave: "With unobtrusive and pleasant service and an approachable but well-conceived menu, this neighborhood spot has added a level of refinement that makes it a fun weeknight date spot or place to gather with friends. Gannaway has found a formula that seems to be working at Troya." [Chron]
Paul Reidinger ventures way off the beaten review circuit to hang out with the surfers the Outer Sunset's Pizza Place on Noriega: "The pizzeria is just about a year old: a whippersnapper with sharp new wood flooring and, over the roof, a tell-tale curvy exhaust flue, in a faded part of town. It's not yet the equal of the Richmond's Pizzetta 211 and maybe it doesn't mean to be. But friends and acquaintances of mine who live in the western Sunset (some surfer dudes, some regular dudes) are certainly eager for renewal in the restaurant scene — if not fast times, at least ambulatory ones." [SFBG]
Robert Lauriston goes even deeper into residential land, and visits the Portola District's Zone 88, where the Chinese hot pot is main attraction: "Zone 88 suffers from an advanced case of Multiple Menu Syndrome ... There's a separate menu for hot pots; another for noodles, dumplings, pancakes, and breads (at least some of which appear on the main menu, sometimes under different names); a simplified menu with some standard Chinese-American dishes; a takeout menu with a selection of the less-challenging dishes; and at least one other page that may include dishes not on the main menu. The servers are friendly but don't speak much English, so if you don't speak Chinese you're on your own in sorting all this out." [SFW]
ELSEWHERE: The East Bay Express takes the first crack at Oakland's Mono, Reidinger braves the 99-cent burger at Del Taco, La Hopstress goes fancy at the new Fifth Floor, and the Merc's Aleta Watson introduces yakitori to the South Bay at Los Altos' Sumika.