Baueriffic makes a trip up to Wine Country today, revisiting the six-year-old Santi. Geyserville's "moody sophisticated" Italian restaurant was last reviewed in 2003, at which point it notched 2.5 stars, but with Delfina vet Liza Hinman now at the helm, it's time for a check-up:
[Hinman has] maintained the standards, creating a small menu of gorgeously crafted Italian dishes closely tied to the season ... While prices seem a little expensive for a country restaurant, the food is pristine and service has a professional edge that's rare outside urban areas.With the exception of a dessert dish, the meal is full of winners: "impeccable" salads, "perfectly-cooked" pasta and the half chicken ("both rustic and delicious"), to name a few. Thus, Santi maintains its 2.5 stars, but probably more significant is the business bump that should result from the Bauer spotlight and a ringing endorsement: "It's a destination worth seeking out in the less- traveled reaches of Sonoma wine country." [Chron]
Playing Biden to Bauer's Obama today is Ms. Amanda Gold, who files on sustainable sushi specialist Tataki: "Once diners are seated, however, the experience is pleasant and the waiters professional. Diners are in and out quickly, having probably received a little education and a lot of good fish." Final decision for California Street's little, unusual sushi joint: two stars, with a warning to avoid "rubbery coffee gelatin." [Chron]
Matthew Stafford pinch-hits for Meredith Brody this week, sharing the first mainstream take on Belden Place newcomer Trademark Grill. Unlike its sister restaurant Elite Cafe and its Belden neighbors, Trademark is purebred Americana: "Trademark takes in a broader swath of the American culinary landscape ... The results are hearty and often delectable, especially with all that summertime produce at hand." [SFW]
Paul Reidinger follows the hipster trail down Mission Street to "hipster barbecue" at Baby Blues BBQ. The meat portions are spot-on, but the real finds are the sides: "Some of the best flavors to be found at Baby Blues involve the side dishes, or, in menu-speak, 'fixins.' They're $3.50 each, a la carte; they also come two (of your choice) to a dinner platter and, as a quartet (also of your choosing), make up their own dinner platter." [SFBG]
THE ELSEWHERE: The MIJ's Tanya Henry celebrates Marin's new sushi standout in Tsukiji, the PressDem is in Sonoma too at outdoor paradise Della Santina, the CoCoTimes does Peruvian at Concord's Incas Grill, the EBX is at A Taste of Africa in Berkeley, Bar Bites visits Limon Rotisserie, Bargain Bites is at Showdogs, and the Sunday affair had a tidy 2.5 stars for Pier Three's Plant Cafe.