Still recovering from the James Beard party circuit, Sir Bauer has the week off, so let's kick off this week's review party with Ms. Meredith Brody, who has nothing but raves for L'Ardoise, Thierry Clement's revival of the classic French bistro:
Our favorite appetizer was the tiger prawn ravioli ($10), not minced shellfish but whole bouncy sweet pink shrimp enfolded in tender translucent pasta, enhanced with a sauce vierge that diverged from the classic olive oil, lemon, and chopped tomato sauce by the exciting additions of lots of garlic and butter...In fact, the only misses for Brody are the barramundi and the less-than-spectacular wine list. Her conclusion: for a "new restaurant in 21st-century San Francisco" (heh), L'Ardoise is a reasonably-priced bistro balancing the familiar and novel, and a welcome change from Los Flamingos. [SFW]
The traditional coq au vin ($18) was just what we wanted: tender, long-cooked chicken, cloaked in a shiny, winy sauce redolent of onions, thyme, and bay, with a subtle undertone of lardons, crowned with mushrooms and small onions. This was a dish that could draw us back to L'Ardoise again and again ... Another glass of wine and we would have kissed chef Thierry Clement for his coq au vin alone.
In true indie fashion, Paul Reidinger hits Club Waziema on Divis, home to one of the last cuisines (Ethiopian) in the city remaining untouched by glossy trends: "When they say 'club,' they're not kidding; the deep space has a sort of sports-bar aura in its streetside quarter but acquires a pool-hall feel (complete with pool table) in its raised rear room ... Restaurants cooking spice-charged food are like huge aromatherapy candles, bathing their environs with bewitching scents, and Waziema is no exception. Even out on the street, you can smell it before you see it, and once you're through the door, you're in the zone." [SFBG]
Over at the Chron, Amanda Gold doles out a child-friendly two stars to Oakland's Di Bartolo, where a niche has been found despite the chef shuffle: "... the staff is helpful and familiar, and it's obvious they want diners to feel comfortable and satisfied. Di Bartolo may be an ever-changing project, but with an accessible menu and a friendly vibe, it's found its place in the neighborhood." [Chron]
Like her cohort, Mandy Erickson also breaks out the unenthusiastic deuce stamp for Los Altos' Sumika: "Though the restaurant focuses on grilling - even importing its charcoal from Japan - salads, hot pots, rice bowls, some sushi items and Western-influenced desserts fill the menu. Still, Sumika is at its best when dishing up skewers, salads and other small plates ... Sumika scores fewer points with its entrees. Oyako-don ($12), teriyaki chicken over rice with vegetables, is respectable but uninteresting comfort food." [Chron]
AND THE ELSEWHERE: The Merc's Aleta Watson gets a "whole new perspective on the Italian way of eating" at Campbell's new Tigelleria Ristorante, East Bay Express busts out a trove of treasure metaphors at Point Richmond's Hidden City Cafe, Team Bunrab does its thing at Brown Sugar Kitchen, The MIJ goes to Greenbrae's Jason, and lest we forget, Michael Bauer's Sunday 2.5-star review of the overhauled Fifth Floor was a doozy indeed.