After last year's 1.5 star flogging for Lafitte and the ensuing public outlashing from its chef Russell Jackson, Captain Bauer finally has mercy on the Embarcadero restaurant in today's Thursday Datebook review. Lafitte is very pretty, for one thing and now they've finally "established several signature dishes." Bauer has decided "it's grown up." Although servers could still "use a little training" and some desserts don't come together, he likes the Bistro New York steak tartare, lamb's tongue, a butter-poached-lobster bacon salad and he says the roast chicken for two is "worthy of a return visit." The atmo retains its 2.5 stars, while the food rating gets a bump to 2. After over a year in business, at last it's a two star affair overall. [Chron]
Kauff investigates the new wave of shabu-shabu joints in the Richmond and Sunset, most of them owned by Chinese-Americans. At 6-month-old Shabu Pub the spicy miso broth has "gasp-inducing potency" and the combo meal is "nothing special." He notes "each of the four restaurants I visited takes its own liberties with shabu shabu," but compared to Shabu Lounge and Prime Rib Shabu House, "G Cube hews most closely to the Japanese model of shabu shabu." [SF Weekly]
The Elsewhere: The Marin IJ has "a slice of Americana" at Mill's Restaurant in Novato, the EBX goes "taco hunting" all over the East Bay, Bar Bites says "it's all about tasting wine" at Enoteca La Storia and Bargain Bite enjoys meat substitutes and fried banana balls at Shangri-La Vegetarian Chinese in the Sunset.