The Thursday Datebook is sadly sans M-Beezy this week, but in his stead, Carey Sweet files on San Anselmo's Dream Farm. In its previous incarnation at Fork, the Marin spot took 2.5 Bauer stars back in '06, but since morphing into a more timely American bistro earlier this year, just about everything has been stripped down and simplified:
While this is not necessarily destination dining, the results are uniformly pleasing and, to judge by the busy house on each of my three visits, well received ... The Dream Farm space is bare ... Seasoning can be equally spare; the salt shakers on the table come in handy.Sweet deems Dream Farm a perfectly acceptable neighborhood restaurant in the sense that despite some missteps (i.e., starters are a snooze), it's still a "solid, satisfying spot." But not quite satisfying enough to hold onto its rating as the more upscale Fork; in the end, it's a slight downgrade to two stars all around. [Chron]
Paul Reidinger hits up the lovely Bar Bambino, and the trofie pasta sums up the whole experience at the Mission hit: "This is the kind of simple Italian dish that leaves you wondering, How do they manage to do so much with so little? A dash of this, a touch of that, and a miracle." [SFBG]
Meredith Brody deems the newish Noodle Theory in the Marina to be a surprising winner. Let's talk physics: "Noodle Theory's fare is a quantum leap from the dorm room's friend, or even the chowhound connoisseurship of pho, Japanese ramen and udon, or the Thai rice noodles found in ethnic eateries ... This is comfort food that also surprises and excites." [SFW]
Earlier in the week, Josh Sens' review of Contigo went live, and for the most part, it was another encouraging take on Brett Emerson's venture: "Better to call it a high-achieving neighborhood restaurant—a very Bay Area being with Spanish bloodlines. Like its confessional chef, Contigo seems eager to bare its soul." Final SF Mag grade: 2.5 stars. [SFM]
THE ELSEWHERE: The EBX's Matthew Stafford finds inventive Italian at Oakland's Bellanico, the CoCo Times also does Italian at Mangia Mi, the PressDem makes it an Italian threesome by visiting Trattoria Lupo in Santa Rosa (are we sensing a pattern here?), the Napa Valley Register gets in on the same action at Fabrizio's, the MIJ checks out Sausalito's Euro-inspired Cibo, and the Sunday Chron had two stars for Barlata.