For his Thursday review today, The Bauers That Be heads to Wine Country to revisit Sante in the Sonoma Mission Inn. He had previously handed out 2.5 stars to Sante when it first opened in 2002, but since then, the restaurant has found its way, even earning a Michelin star this past year. With chefs Bruno Tison and Andrew Cain running things, the kitchen is firing on all cylinders:
A chocolate dessert included a dry financier and a rubbery panna cotta, but those were the only missteps in the meal. In fact, the food bests the other elements of the dining experience. Staff members are young and somewhat tentative, although it's clear they are well trainedAll in all, the best deal is the $49 three-courser, and even though Bauer is less than thrilled with the hotel spa setting, there's no denying that Sante is putting out high-level food. Thus, it's worthy of an upgrade to three stars. [Chron]
Of course, as noted earlier, the big review of the week dropped on Sunday, with Bauer handing out a glowing 3.5 stars to the new Quince: "By my last visit, I had successfully mourned the passing of Myth and embraced the emergence of Quince. It's almost like building a new relationship after a partner dies; you never forget, but you come to treasure the new. Given more time and seasoning, Quince could be the love of my life." [Chron]
Matthew Stafford takes the Weekly review and heads to the comfort food of Fish & Farm: "[It] is just the sort of place you crave after a strenuous day of elbowing your way through the holiday shoppers ... Service is well informed, affable, and attentive; you feel the staff wants to make your meal a special occasion. With skilled kitchencraft, potent cocktails, and winter solstice convening, how could it be anything else?" [SFW]
Paul Reidinger finds a "stylish urban vault" at Coda, the Mission jazz joint that replaced Levende: "Simple seekers after food won't be disappointed. Coda's menu has been put together by Chris Pastena, who is one of the local masters of Cal-Ital cooking and had a hand in the revival of Bruno's a few years back." [SFBG]
Carol Ness files the secondary Chron review this week, handing out two stars to Oakland's Spice Monkey: "Maybe the best thing about going to Spice Monkey is the vibe of the place. People clearly enjoy themselves and feel at home here. More power to the monkey in all of us." [Chron]
THE ELSEWHERE: The EBX goes to Albany's "recessionary" Bistro 1491, The MIJ's Tanya Henry revisits a Marin institution in D'Angelo's, The PressDem is at Windsor Thai joint Tomi Thai, Bar Bites stops by Spenger's Fish Grotto in Berkeley, and last but not least, Bargain Bites heads to the DC for Grains Restaurant and Noodle Bar.