Today, Mr. Bauer gets a little grumpy at the original Chez Papa Bistrot in Potrero Hill, where the star slide continues from its original three stars. Not only does Bauer demote it to a palty 1.5 stars—including a rarely-seen food rating of one star—but the review contains some of the most unappetizing descriptions you'll encounter in a review:
But at the Bistrot this time around, the meat was barely seared, with chunks of uneven chopped garlic on top and an uneven sprinkling of lavender salt; the ratatouille had the texture of mush and skins, overseasoned with garlic...Toss that meal in with the fact that, from seating to exit, a three-courser took exactly 46 minutes (not a minute more or less), and yeah, Chez Papa might have problems. As it stands, if you combine the food ratings for both Chez Papa locations, you do get four stars exactly. [Chron]
The roast chicken ($17) had the texture of a long-cooked coq au vin with flabby skin. It arrived less than 20 minutes after it was ordered, which also indicated it had to have been about ready to serve. Not only was the skin soggy but the meat had a slightly leftover taste and mushy texture. I ordered the same dish ($16) at lunch a few days later, and it was only marginally better. Both times the sauce underneath was so viscous it formed ribbons when I picked up my fork, and the grilled vegetables were as wilted as the ratatouille.
Paul Reidinger returns to an old friend in the 11-year-old Jardiniere, which has aged rather well, thanks to its restrained Kuleto design and menu modernizations: "In earlier years, the des Jardins cooking style made ample use of cream and butter, but those luxurious accoutrements seem less in evidence these days ... The saucings generally suggested lean sophistication, and, in a mild anomaly, the main courses struck us as being at least as inventive and nimble as their smaller precursors. The dessert menu has a greatest-hits flavor, with a strong subtheme of seasonality. Ingredients are immaculate and execution flawless." [SFBG]
At the Weekly, newbie reviewer Brian Bernbaum hits current Richmond hotspot and Korean fusion extraordinaire Namu: "By keeping one foot solidly planted in the taste and the look of Korean cuisine, Namu demonstrates a thoughtful approach to fusion too often forgotten by other restaurants in the race to drag traditional food into the fine dining scene: It isn't just the flavors that need blending and balance, it's the presentation as well ... Alas, there is no tableside grill, and no plates piled high with marbled cuts of raw beef and pork. On the plus side, you won't spend the rest of the night smelling like a campfire. It's a fair trade." [SFW]
THE ELSEWHERE: The Chronicle's secondary review has two stars for ultra-green Peter Lowell's in Sebastopol, The MIJ embraces the new/terrific/expensive Olema Inn (home to "the most sophisticated food in West Marin"), the East Bay Express goes to a new traditional French bistro in Albany called Rendez-Vous Cafe, the Merc stops by Cafe San Jose, and Bauer's Sunday review was a 2.5-star affair at Metro Lafayette.