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Week in Reviews: L'Ardoise, Clement Nab the 2.5

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After an enjoyable pair of sub-two star reviews, Bauer has the day off, and Amanda Gold finally gives a Chron review to L'Ardoise, Thierry Clement's Duboce Triangle bistro that's quickly become a neighborhood favorite:

Clement opened L'Ardoise in March, after spending three years behind the stoves at Fringale in the South of Market district. His current menu has similar rustic bistro entrees, such as a tender, wine-stained coq au vin ($18), but it also features upscale plates including an almond-crusted barramundi ($18) with mushrooms and lobster bisque reduction. The crust on the fish wasn't as crisp as it might have been, but the lobster-scented sauce was so delicious that it was easy to forgive the misstep.

It's a pattern that was repeated on each visit - while a tweak or two would have elevated the food, most of the dishes we tried were good enough that I walked away completely satisfied.

Clement gets the expected 2.5 stars, but as Gold points out, the crowds have been swelling at L'Ardoise, because in the end, the neighborhood joint does all the right things well: "comforting French fare that will satisfy a crowd any day of the week." [Chron]

Meredith Brody tries out Level III, but is a "trifle" confused about the menu, the food and almost everything else at the remodeled JW Marriot restaurant/lounge: "The menu is divided, a trifle confusingly, into three levels. Level I contains such bar nibbles as mixed nuts ($6) and potato crisps with Point Reyes cheese ($7), but it's a little unclear why "Manila" clams on the half shell ($7) are here and not nestled next to oysters on the half shell ($11) under Level II ... It's not clear at all why those words are in quotes, either, but a whimsical editor or typesetter has sprinkled them oddly throughout the list ... I don't quite understand the philosophy of the menu: Much of what we ordered seems like toy food, not really satisfying. Only the tuna tartare tasted like it came from a first-class kitchen." [SFW]

20 years after his first visit, Paul Reidinger revisits Elite Cafe to find a hidden gem: "Despite a long presence (the restaurant's predecessor, Lincoln Grill, opened at the Fillmore Street location in 1928) and an attention-getting name, the Elite Café seems slightly anonymous at the moment. When people think about New Orleans food in San Francisco, they think about other, newer places, and more power to them. Let the Elite Café remain a secret for the happy few." [SFBG]

THE ELSEWHERE: The EBX is at Oakland's La Taza de Cafe, BiteClub does Sebastopol sushi at Tosaki, The MIJ enjoys Mexican/Korean/Irish fusion at Novato standby Maya Palenque, Mapplr recommends Sushi Ran in Sausalito, The CoCo Times had a tres for Fiore last week, and let's not forget about Bauer's Sunday single star review of 25° Brix, the instant classic that we broke down earlier this week.

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