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Week in Reviews: Cortez Boosted to Three Stars

With the chef and ownership situations finally sorted out at Cortez, Sir Bauer is overdue for a revisit, and coming off his 2.5-star '06 review, MB finds a pleasant surprise with Jenn Puccio at the helm:

... looking over the menu, I had my doubts that the quality had been maintained. The description of the dishes didn't draw me in, and the amus-bouche - cucumber gelee with a bitter-tasting slice of grapefruit - braced me for further disappointment.

All that changed with the shot glass of French onion soup with Parmesan and breadcrumb foam ($6 for 2) that tasted just as you'd expect, with the sweetness of the main ingredient, the tang of cheese and nuttiness of the bread ... At first I thought the kitchen stumbled when the ricotta-filled ravioli ($17) came out looking dry, covered with breadcrumbs and equally dry slices of sauteed artichoke. Yet, one bite and I realized the dish scored big time.

Maybe Bauer's low expectations—or perhaps his fondness for husband-and-wife teams—helped out the cause, but whatever the case, his update is a positive one, resulting in an upgrade to three stars along with the conclusion that Cortez is "back on top." [Chron]

Citing impressive food plagued by portion problems, Mandy Erickson has a deuce for Palo Alto's Shokolaat: "Of course, such an elegant presentation fizzles if the food doesn't taste as good as looks, but Shokolaat's French cuisine with California accents holds up its end of the deal. Most of the time, the food is quite good - what there is of it. Portions can be disappointingly small." [Chron]

Lady Brody loves her North Beach restaurants, and the giant plates at Joey & Eddie's are no exception. It's a rave of a review: "Much of what you'll be saying will be happy exclamations about the food. From the start, when warm fresh loaves of excellent, wheaty Italian bread are brought on a heated stone, accompanied by small square dishes of butter, olive oil, and red pepper flakes, the style of the house is announced: not just generosity, but quality and attention to detail ... And it's not just big food; it's good food with top-quality ingredients, thoughtfully prepared. This is what gave Italian home cooking a good name." [SFW]

Paul Reidinger files a lukewarm take on Cava22, the 22nd Street restaurant that seems neither here nor there: "Cava22 is the Mission's answer to Tres Agaves in ballpark yuppieland ... it's good food, a sort of Spanish-Mexican amalgam, and fairly priced. That, plus the drink, plus the large number of tables, means that Cava22 is a good place to know about if you're flying out the door by the seat of your pants, hoping to indulge one of the great pleasures available to the urban diner" [SFBG]

THE ELSEWHERE: Ms. Hopstress is at the new Magnolia, The EBX does bean curd at Tofu Yu, The Merc's Aleta Watson isn't impressed with Palo Alto's MacArthur Park, The MIJ visited Carlos Santana's Maria Maria last week, and the Sunday Chron review had 2.5 stars for Calistoga's Solbar.

[Photo courtesy]