For today's Datebook review, the Bauer Cabaret returns to Chez TJ in Mountain View for the first time in two years to find out what Scott Nishiyama is up to in the kitchen. He's impressed by the food on the plate: "Execution was masterful," but other aspects aren't so swell: "the disappointing wine selections and incongruous interior." But there's still this: "Whether intended or not, Chez TJ has become a farm team for some of the Bay Area's greatest culinary talents. Scott Nishiyama seems destined for even bigger challenges." Yet half a jewel must be removed from the Chez crown, bringing it from three stars to a banal 2.5. [SFGate]
And The Kauff is getting down and dirty with two Vietnamese crawfish boils at Red Crawfish in the Tenderloin and SJ Crawfish in the Outer Sunset. It's pretty clear that Red Crawfish is the one to go to: "There is only one reason to come to Red Crawfish — crawfish — and it's reason enough." [SF Weekly]
Reidinger is in SoMa at La Briciola, "still welcoming in that distinctive Italian way that manages to be informal and formal at the same time." He's thrown off by the same veg mix, "slung onto passing plates in some kind of hash line." And recommends: "Executive chef Gian Luca Toschi's best dishes are the traditional ones, though these aren't necessarily old warhorses." [SFBG]
ELSEWHERE: We begin this here section with the Co Co Times , all about rugby at Pt. Richmond's Up & Under; onwards to the EBX and pleasantries for Café Aquarius in Emeryville; then The Merc finds the restaurant of its dreams at St. Michael's Alley in Palo Alto; the Marin IJ is feeling Frenchie at L'Appart; Metro SV gets some Korean at Jang Su Jang; and rounding out the Thursday Datebook section: Bargain Bite is at Taqueria Guadalajara; Bar Bites does Half Moon Bay's Pasta Moon and Carey Sweet is bowled over by risotto at Grace's Table in Napa, but other lackluster dishes bring it down to 2-star territory.
[Photo: Traveller's Table]