We kick this Thursday's review sesh off with mostly kind words for Michael Mina's RN74 from Paul Reidinger over at the SFBG. To begin with, he falls in love with the aesthetic of the place, not the locale:
"It is beautiful and elegant inside but not overwrought, and it is (so far) one-of-a-kind. The main disappointment, for me, pertains to location; as at nearby Roy's, the windows gaze out onto Mission Street and the romantic spell fades."
But then the menu takes him for a very nice ride, "The food is exemplary: much less intricate and overbearing than at Michael Mina while losing little or nothing in inventiveness and polish." [SFBG]
The review party continues as Jonathan Kauffman digs into a lively medley of frankfurters. The Kauff does a nice job of singling out the most talked-up weiners in town, and puts his critically trained tastebuds to work at various ends of the spectrum. Da Beef's dog earns "Original Overachiever" status: "It's a James Cameron movie dog, a Super Bowl halftime spectacle dog -- you don't analyze this hot dog, you stuff it in your face and gasp at the flavor explosions." And the illegal bacon-wrapped dog is a true sidewalk gem:
"They can't replicate the way an aluminum sheet pan set over a propane stove caramelizes onions and peppers. Deep brown, silky, almost more of a spread than a vegetable, they're just the right complement to the crispy-shelled dog."Things go downhill from here with Little Skillet's "Cute Overload Fail," a vegan dog from Underdog that comes so dangerously close to the "commercially produced frank that it teeters on the edge of repellent," and the "Promise[s] that [Don't]...Quite Deliver:" the Kobe beef hot dog from Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom, and the "imperfect simulacrum" of Jamie Lauren's much-hyped Absinthe dog. Things end on a high note with "The One You Order on a Dare and Then Fall in Love With," a pickled hot link from Showdogs, and then The Kauff teases out his inner hipster with the Zilla-style golden dog at the 4505 Meats stand. [SF Weekly]
Well pizza seems to be a hot topic these days, and over at the EBX, Matthew Stafford is on it with a review of Charlie Hallowell's new Boot and Shoe Service. "The pizza tastes exceptionally good at Boot and Shoe Service, one of the Bay Area's many outstanding contributions to the nouveau-pizza movement...Hallowell's antipasti are the perfect introduction to an evening of starchy entrees...The Monterey Bay squid pizza was terrific...and the star dessert is good, old-fashioned soft serve made from Straus Organic vanilla bean ice cream." [EBX]
Over in Larkspur, Le Bauer indulges in a "pure French experience" at Left Bank and is surprised to find a true bargain. He appreciates many dishes, though service and food are lacking at moments, "It adds up to a warm, inviting environment, enhanced by the veteran staff at the front door. Left Bank is a haven for locals, and with the improvements in the food, more regulars may be forthcoming." Left Bank gets le 2.5 stars. [Chron]
THE ELSEWHERE: SFStation hits Aquarello, The PressDem has 2.5 stars for Napa's Farmstead, the Merc is full of pleasantries for Pleasanton's Farmer, Bar Bites heads to Sebastopol's Pizzavino 707, Bargain Bite treks to Falafel, etc. in Fremont, and finally, Stett H. at MSV does Szechuan at Milpitas' South Legend.