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Week in Reviews: No Progress, or Upgrade, at MarketBar

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The initial allure of possible improvements at MarketBar tricks Don Michael into an update review, five years after he gave it a mere 1.5 stars upon opening. Unfortunately, the picturesque Ferry Building setting proves once again to be a tease:

Between bursts of misplaced energy, servers were usually nowhere to be found. A person who appeared to be a floor manager simply walked between the entrance and the kitchen, seeing and doing nothing.

The food reflected the parallel loose, inattentive attitude ... Re-reading my initial review shows that little has actually changed since the restaurant opened. The owners are respected veterans - Doug Biederbeck, who owns Bix, and partners Joseph Graham (Florio), and chef Rick Hackett - so it's doubly surprising that aspects of the restaurant continue to fall short of what you'd expect.

MarketBar will probably always do well because of its location and prices. But it could be so much more.

In the end, MarketBar remains tethered well below expectations, and Bauer sticks it with the same subpar 1.5 star rating, perhaps with a hope of lighting a fire under a place plagued by inattention. Because as he points out, it's mighty fine real estate. [Chron]

Meanwhile, Miriam Morgan is in the Haight, with a deuce for the new Magnolia. Her meal hits a few grumpy notes ("dull" sausage, "boring" polenta, "riotously loud" scene), but even MM loves that fried chicken: "We were lucky, however, that our Update visit was on a Thursday - fried chicken night. A longtime customer favorite that was initially off the revamped menu, owner McLean has put it back on once a week. The beautifully crunchy half bird ($18) is delicious, with mashed potatoes, pan gravy and greens." [Chron]

This month, Josh Sens takes his turn on the ride that is Kuletoville, echoing the general consensus on both Epic and Waterbar: "Waterbar delivers some sprightly seafood. Service is enthusiastic and attentive. And desserts, like chocolate silk (chocolate mousse layered on pistachio crust), are sure to satisfy a bionic sweet tooth. But despite—or perhaps because of—its steep construction cost, the restaurant has the feel of a disjointed theme park. Blame the high prices, but also cast a wary eye on the design .... Epic Roasthouse also goes for the grandiose, but the approach plays more successfully here. Kuleto sates his craving for outsize stage props with a giant water pump (a replica of one used by firefighters after the 1906 earthquake), which sits in the heart of the dining room. Over the top in almost any other context, the pump, with its nostalgic nod to manly heroics, feels apropos here." [SFM]

At the Weekly, Matthew Stafford pinch hits for Lady Brody at La Trappe, where the massive beer list is the star: "Consequently, the menu at La Trappe, a newish Belgian restaurant along the Mason Street cable car tracks, is on the abbreviated side. Mussels are a recurring motif. So is Belgian endive. There's lapin à la Flamande and waterzooi à la Gantoise and the occasional Belgian waffle. But honest effort and more than a few culinary successes notwithstanding, the place is primarily about the beer." [SFW]

THE ELSEWHERE: The EBX finds rejuvenated pub grub at the Hotel Durant's Henry's, the Merc's Aleta Watson is at Cin Cin Wine Bar in Los Gatos, La Hopstress revisits Dave Mclean's other Haight outpost in The Alembic, the Daily Feed visits Scott Howard at Left Bank, the MenuBlog hits Anchor & Hope, and Bauer's Sunday review crossed the Golden Gate to Joseph Humphrey's Murray Circle at the new Cavallo Point.

[Photo: Flickr/backcountry5]

Magnolia Pub and Brewery

1398 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117 Visit Website