Michael Bauer pays a visit to Tra Vigne, "the quintessential Wine Country restaurant," and he gets why tourists like the place. Although some of the food is over-salted, Bauer's impressed they take advantage of "at least four kinds of tomatoes" in the caprese salad and most of the desserts are very good. The restaurant's major downfall is pushy servers who seem to prey on the tourist diners: "when servers see a new face, instead of reading the table, they devour it like fresh meat." Still, a great atmosphere and memorable dishes earn Tra Vigne 2 ½ stars, overall. [Chron]
After receiving her copy of Vietnamese Home Cooking, SF Weekly's Anna Roth samples Charles Phan's casual dining joint Out the Door in Lower Pac Heights. Though she writes that prices "would only be 'casual' to a 1 percenter," the dishes delivered, including the best ban xeo she's every had, explain why Phan has "so many accolades." The kitchen generally "treats the meat with respect," save for the "disappointingly dry" lemongrass pork chop. Even so, Roth feels lucky she can come to Out The Door when she wants Phan's food without cooking it for herself. [SF Weekly]
Responding to the hype of the Hayes Valley Italian restaurant Rich Table, SFBG's Virginia Miller decides to weigh in on the "ever-changing menu." The pastas seem to be her favorites, especially the duck lasagna: "a glorious pasta dish with no equal in this town... or in any other." Other strong points include a cocktail menu, specifically the Big Night, "which looks like a healthy, green veggie drink, but is subtly smoky Del Maguey Vida mescal." With "well-rounded and satisfying" dishes, and warm and engaging staff, she concludes: "Rich Table is primed for greatness." [SFBG]
San Francisco magazine's Sara Deseran savors the delicious open-faced sandwich, known as smørrebrød at the Mission's Bar Tartine. She commends the sandwich shop for its range of topping including, "everything from house-cured salmon to chopped broccoli with onion jam and chili." But she notes there are other items on the menu "worth worshipping," namely the smoked and fried potatoes served "in a bowl with a dollop of pickled ramp mayonnaise." She adds: "They're unforgettable." [San Fran Mag]
THE ELSEWHERE: EBX hits Oakland's "Kimchi Row" eating at Oriental BBQ Chicken Town, Kang Tong Degi, and Dan Sung Sa; The Merc finds elevated bar food at District in Oakland; Marin IJ pairs brews with dishes at Mill Valley Beerworks; and finally, Chron gives 31st Union in San Mateo 2 ½ stars.
— Ashley Mason