No Mikey Boom Boom in today's review extravaganza, so the Chronicle goes with East Bay contributor Nicholas Boer, who finds himself at the Farmer. Set in the historic Pleasanton Hotel, the newish restaurant does some things well at least:
My advice is to stick with items that could pass for normal in the heartland of the '60s, like spicy chicken wings ($9.95), and a chilled iceberg wedge with crisp bacon and creamy blue cheese dressing ($8.95). These dishes were memorable.Yes, the advice is definitely a bit euphemistic, but even though some of the menu can get spotty at times, Boer does find plenty of neighborhood hospitality. In the end, the intimate Pleasanton landmark is good for two stars all around, and the following endorsement: "the Farmer is, in a word, comfortable." [Chron]
Paul Reidinger hits a reinvented classic in Magnolia, where Ronnie New has given the menu a New Orleans touch: "Magnolia was among the first of the city's modern brewpubs ... with Ronnie New now in charge, the food retains its gastro-pubby, beer-friendly edge. There's a daily pizza, a burger made with Prather Ranch beef, and (at lunch) a meatloaf sandwich. But New has Louisiana roots, and he's infused Magnolia's new menu with various Cajun and Creole touches." [SFBG]
Meredith Brody tries out Beijing Restaurant, which has recently received plenty of press as Yao Ming's favorite SF spot: "We'd had a meal I'd characterize as more interesting than totally successful — the dim sum items were the best things we tried. But on an early weeknight return visit, when most of the tables were empty, we lucked out on almost everything we tried." [SFW]
Matthew Stafford files the first official take on Bocanova in Jack London Square. Rick Hackett's Pan-American endeavor gets high marks for its cocktails and setting ("a beautifully remodeled 1920s ice house, an airy, high-ceilinged industrial-chic rendezvous"), but even though the raw bar and grill items already shine, some of the food—like the unfortunate-sounding Flan in a Bag, "a thick, gummy bastardization of the classic egg custard"—is still inconsistent in the early going. [EBX]
THE ELSEWHERE: The PressDem has three stars for Healdsburg's Barndiva, the MIJ's Tanya Henry discovers that Olema's Farm House lives up to its name, the Merc finds a hidden gem in La Nostra Pizza, the Bunrabs return to Koi Palace, and the Sunday Bauer was a three-star showcase at Neela's in Napa. And as a non-SF bonus, yesterday marked Sam Sifton's first review at the New York Times.