Today Bauer On A Budget says he would've given Jardiniere 3.5 stars if only the prices weren't so high. "Overall the food is still excellent, although there aren't the culinary stretches usually employed to justify this price point...Service has always been outstanding at Jardiniere, but this time around it lacked the precision I remember." Jardiniere gets bumped to three stars, overall. [Chron]
On the other end of the price spectrum, The Dry Kauff thinks SoMa's new AQ could charge more for its "impressive" dishes. He says chef Mark Liberman "is articulating that new cuisine coalescing in San Francisco that is both modernist and seasonal, without the theatrics of more avant-garde restaurants like Alinea or the Fat Duck." Duck aged on a bone is "the most astonishing dish on the winter menu," and you should "go now before AQ's owners discover they're selling themselves short." [SF Weekly]
The second Chron review today is a two star exploration of Umami Burger. Allen Matthews grumbles about "chaotic" service before listing his three favorite burgers on the menu: the Truffle Burger ("a trip to heaven"), Earth Burger ("one of the most luxurious vegetarian dishes I've ever had"), and finally the Scallop Burger, which has pork belly in it: "sublime." [Chron]
Virginia Miller files a double-header featuring two new and notable East Bay bars. She calls Gitane alum Alex Smith's cocktails at Emeryville's new Honor Bar "among the best...in the East Bay." Then at Oakland's New Easy in the Grand Lake District, she delights in the "funky, eclectic, charming," decor and a "decidedly playful" menu of cocktails "reminiscent of American childhood... but with booze." [SFBG]
THE ELSEWHERE: The EBX's Jesse Hirsch likes Potala Organic Cafe, even though it serves macrobiotic food; The Merc gives 2.5 stars to the "fun small plates" at Danville's Roti 8, and the Marin IJ calls San Anselmo's new Sweetlife Bakery & Café "fun" and "uplifting."