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Week in Reviews: Absinthe Gets the Deuce

With Absinthe experiencing a revival under the newfound celebrity of Top Chef alum Jamie Lauren, Baueriffic pays the ten-year-old brasserie a quick revisit. The pork confit remains a winner, but sweet, sweet Jamie still can't escape those damn scallops:

When the scallop dish was placed before us I thought someone had an accident ... The scallops didn't even pretend to be warm and the vegetables tasted tired. By contrast, the slow-cooked pork confit ($26) was piping hot, the chunk of tender meat propped on a bed of butter beans laced with bacon, wilted nettles and roasted tomatoes. It was as delightful as the scallops were dismal.
The saving grace is that the place was packed on a recent Sunday night, but Mikedog Millionaire saves his harshest words for the service, which he deems clueless after he senses some "audible sighs." In the end, it's a demotion from 2.5 stars down to two stars. [Chron]

Mandy Erickson also busts out the two-star stamp for the meat-centric Refuge in San Carlos: "The star of the menu is the house-made pastrami, on the lean side and sliced thick. Burgers are also very good, as is the finely sliced grilled beef in the cheese steaks ... Unfortunately, the carnivorous indulgence can be marred by amateurish service and earsplitting noise." [Chron]

Meredith Brody ventures into the TL for exotic Thai food at Lers Ros, and emerges with high praise, lapel-grabbing and overboard claims: "And now I'm going to grab you by the lapels and tell you that my new favorite Thai place in the city is Lers Ros, exactly six months old ... steamed fresh whole sea bass ($15.95) stuffed with lengths of lemongrass in a light broth sparked with lots of sliced garlic and cilantro, worthy of being served at the multistarred N.Y.C. fish palace Le Bernardin." Eric Ripert, your thoughts? [SFW]

Paul Reidinger pops into Polk Street's Bar Johnny with fun results: "Unlike a number of its Bar-designated siblings, Bar Johnny really does seem to have some flavor as a bar in the American sense ... A certain Marina-ish haze hovers. I also caught a whiff of urinal cakes one fine evening.." Charming. [SFBG]

THE ELSEWHERE: The PressDem takes the first look at Yountville's Bardessono and declares it ahead of the curve, the EBX's Matthew Stafford finds Shattuck Avenue's Cioccolata Di Vino to be more than just a snack bar, the MIJ files on Boudin in Corte Madera, Bargain Bites also does Berkeley at Looney's Smokehouse, Bar Bites is at Red Lantern down the Peninsula, and lest we forget, the Sunday Chron review had 2.5 stars for Charles Phan and hisHeaven's Dog.

[Photo courtesy]