The Thursday Datebook is Bauer-less, so reviewaphiles will have to settle for a medley of others today. First up, Paul Reidinger revisits Liberty Cafe, the Bernal Heights staple whose ownership change prompted that conflicted/odd confessional from a few months back. Reidinger discovers that even with the changes, Liberty Cafe remains a respectable place:
So far the change in ownership is not visible; the restaurant looks the same and the general new-American tenor of the food is familiar ... Still, there are signs of stress. The dining room strikes me as slightly understaffed"
In the end, Liberty Cafe is exactly not a great restaurant, but the family joint has never been one per se, even before the shuffle. Still, there's room for improvement, as epitomized by the butterscotch pudding, which also got panned by the Big MB earlier this summer. Reidinger sums it up: "It was good but could have been, should have been better. And for now, that's the way it is at Liberty Cafe." [SFBG]
Meredith Brody files a rave for Fulton Street's neighborhood fave Poleng Lounge, where Tim Luym has his (expanded) menu firing on all cylinders: "We were delighted with every dish we ordered at Poleng. The ingredients were fresh and handled with respect, and Luym has a genius for balancing the traditional salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and savory elements." [SFW]
East Bay man Nicholas Boer handles Chron duties at Concord's Bella Ristorante. The "handsome" Italian restaurant from Abdel Redouane (Luna) is actually in a mall, and Boer hands it the standard deuce rating. His not-too-ringing endorsement: "It's a long parade of stoplights to Bella Ristorante, but if you know what to order, it's well worth it." [Chron]
THE ELSEWHERE: The MIJ's Tanya Henry tips her hat to Sharam Bijan and his successful, Saitowitz-designed Toast in Novato, the CoCo Times tries the Oakland location of Cesar's, the EBX does Oakland's Grand Tavern, the PressDem finds memorable lasagna at downtown Santa Rosa's Nonni's, Bargain Bites goes to the TL's Golden Era Vegetarian, Bar Bites treks south to Martins West, and the Sunday affair had 2.5 stars for Scott Howard's return at Five.