Mikey Dollar Bills does a re-review of RN74 this week and he begins "to question the value" after swallowing two big checks. He says, "Don't get me wrong - the food on its own is excellent...[but] It seems as if RN74 is losing its unique personality; it feels trendy but a little rote. Like a great wine, it's missing that indescribable quality that makes me long to return." It's bumped down to 2.5 stars overall. [Chron]
The Kauffinator goes mainstream at The Melt and Umami Burger: two "nascent chains...doing it with Earth-huggy claims...good ingredients, compostable cutlery — but also with tech-geek-worthy backstories." At The Melt he finds fresher flavors in the soups than the melts: "It's a grilled cheese, all right, but a sterile one." And at the first outpost of LA-based Umami Burger, he finds "the city's most attractive burger restaurant" serves up burgers with "swagger" that are "quite good," but sides are lackluster, and for the price "there are juiced up beefy burgers in town to rival it—Serpentine's, Zuni's and Heirloom's come to mind. [SF Weekly]
Untz Untz takes the party to Trace at The W Hotel where Aqua/Oliveto alum Paul Piscopo's "ingredient-driven cooking is some of the best in The City at surprisingly moderate prices." Despite the "ineptly lit W dining room," his "cooking is so lush, earthbound and legitimately exciting it triumphs over its relentlessly uncomfortable surroundings, making Trace patrons remember they’re in San Francisco, after all." [Examiner]
THE ELSEWHERE: The third Chron review of the week has hearty a 2.5 stars for Napa’s Cielito Linda, another contender in the recent Wine Country boom in Mexican restaurants; The Merc finds a stylish Walnut Creek Thai restaurant in Kacha Bistro, The Marin IJ says Larkspur’s Tha Siam will please a range of palates, and EBX comes around to new Alameda hot dog restaurant Doggy-Style.