The Untermagnificent braves The Ritz-Carlton's recent restaurant transformation into Parallel 37, discovering "Many of the dishes at Parallel 37 would have been quite at home in the old Ritz-Carlton Dining Room, but now the cost of a three-course meal is about half — $75 a person with a cocktail or a glass of wine." Even though she misses the old dining room, the "freshness" and "liveliness" of chef Ron Siegel's food keeps her positive. Desserts are lacking and the iPad wine list might be "overpriced," but "The main thing is we can get Siegel’s classic dishes more spontaneously and less expensively. I’m not used to this level of cooking being so accessible, but I’m happy to adjust." [Examiner]
The Guardian's Virginia Miller takes her turn at Maven, "a sleek new cocktail haven in Lower Haight." Although the concept leads with Michael Mina vet Kate Bolton's cocktails, "dishes [are] more interesting than they read on paper." Miller runs through all the food and cocktail parings: from scallops with an absinthe cocktail to a saison with a mushroom tart, concluding "you won't suffer here at all." [Examiner]
Kauffman goes to try the Chinese dumplings at i-Skewers, from the same people behind Kingdom of Dumpling and King of Noodles. When the dumplings are "perfectly cooked" (about two thirds of the time), "they're a chewy foil to the meat and juice locked inside." Sadly "meat skewers ($6.95) range from the tough to the inedible, [but] the grilled vegetables listed in the same section of the menu are a revelation, coated in the same blend of minuscule cumin seeds, chiles, and salt as the beef and lamb kidneys." [SF Weekly]
THE ELSEWHERE: Marin IJ finds "Old World delicacies" at San Raphael's new branch of Miller's East Coast Deli, The Merc gives 2.5 stars to Oakland's new branch of Faz, and the Chron's Thursday review has two stars for the "stylized" Mexican food at El Sacromonte.