Bauer likes chef Ian Begg's food at Txoko enough to give it 2.5 stars, but "erratic" service and "letdown" desserts keep the overall restaurant rating at 2 stars. The cocktails are a different matter entirely: "The combinations are balanced and never heavy handed, served in great glassware that takes you back to Mad Men days." Still he years for the buzz of former inhabitant Enrico's heyday: "Txoko is a concept that's still in the growing stages. But it's one that I hope will eventually bring the legacy of the Enrico's location back to popularity." [Chron]
Unterman goes to try the "new Vietnamese cuisine" at the refurbished Le Soliel in the Inner Richmond. After tasting through lotus root salad, "exciting" Dungeness crab noodles, and fried short rib cutlet, the conclusion is a good one: "Served in the comfortable, soigne new dining room lit by votives, this personal, rather elegant Vietnamese cooking proves to be a bargain for a civilized night out with well-chosen wine, or just a casual bite. Everyone walks out feeling elevated and happy." [Examiner]
Kauffman gets a smoke shower at the Marina's Cedar Hill, but he still thinks it "gets barbecue right." Although the overall experience "was like chasing the dragon," and the ribs and brisket are mostly disappointing, the barbecued chicken is "spectacular," and better still: "on one night, the pulled pork redeemed every gloopy sandwich doused in ketchup and liquid smoke that San Francisco has ever inflicted on me." [SF Weekly]
Miller of the SFBG thinks both Bar Tartine and Txoko have improved with age. On Tartine chef Nick Balla's new Hungarian inflected menu "grilled tripe ($12) stands as the best tripe dish I've ever tasted," and beets, farmer's cheese dumplings and Hungarian potato bread are other winners. And over on Broadway, "Txoko's Wednesday night, four-course foie gras dinners ($55) are arguably the best way to ride out the remaining months until June when the California foie gras ban takes effect." Lamb's tongue and venison are the other "must order" dishes. [SFBG]
THE ELSEWHERE: The Merc favors Bhutanese dishes at the new Himalayan Flavors in Berkeley, Marin IJ recs the paella and risotto at El Meson Café, and the EBX's Jesse Hirsch calls Freehouse "bro-friendly" and "no frills."