Michael Bauer first visited Southern fried chicken paradise Pican in January, but his return to the Oakland restaurant fails to meet his expectations. Missing multiple marks in service and flavor, he writes the restaurant "lacked soul" although the banana pudding is, "the best way to send diners out with a smile." In addition to being "surprised at how many items the kitchen was out of," he notes that the three-year-old restaurant has issues quickly seating guests and problems executing the shrimp in the Low Country shrimp and grits. However, solid entree favorites, like the pan-roasted gulf snapper and smoked brisket-braised collard, pardon the mistakes. While "the energy was electric" in the space, "no dish begged me to return." All of this earned the spot: 2 Stars. [Chron]
SFBG's Virginia Miller is impressed by the charming service and memorable food at FiDi's Turkish hotspot Machka. While she says the nearly three-month-old restaurant goes for "the SF standard — locally sourced, mostly organic ingredients," Mediterranean flavors, like "brightly gratifying" lamb tartare, elevate the dishes. Though the side of fava beans is "surprisingly bland," she writes that the "professionally engaging warmth" set by the servers saves the day. The successful wild card from her dining experience are the to-go options: "I crave the durum (flatbread) wrap ($12) to-go when I don't have time sit down and savor the restaurant's soothing setting." [SFBG]
Chicken wings take front and center in Anna Roth's write up of Lower Haight's Wings Wings for SF Weekly. She writes the chicken was excellent ("nice, not-too-heavy crust"), but the sauces are really the ones to watch. Their hot sauce "isn't nuclear," but the mustard in their honey mustard sauce packs a punch. She wrote that it had, "a strong mustard flavor that doesn't quite harmonize with the honey or the wings." Add-ons, like the bacon and chicharrones, are worth it and definitely try the blue cheese dip: "you'd do well to pay an extra 50 cents for a container." [SF Weekly]
After years of travelling, The Chron's Janny Hu tracks down the elusive chef at NoPa's Jannah. The Iraqi restaurant uses Middle Eastern classics as a jumping point for excellence, like the salmon tajeen, "a decadent deck of sumac-marinated onions, salmon, eggplant, tomato, and cabbage." While chef Yahya Salih excels in innovation, she writes: "his simplest entrees can fall flat." Vegetables resemble mixes "that come in frozen bags" and for baklava, she recommends: "Better to go with the kahi ($5), a pair of phyllo-crusted triangles filled with silky cream and drizzled with berry sauce." Despite "knowledgeable and thoughtful" servers, she notes the dining room was nearly empty every time she visited. With excellent service and innovative food, the restaurant's empty ambience earned it: 2 stars. [Chron]
ELSEWHERE: EBX finds deli food with Mexican flavor at Cafe Q in Alameda; The Merc travels to Santa Cruz for nostalgic, not-so-French dishes at Le Cigare Volant; Marin IJ experiences Mediterranean bliss at Garden Bistro in Novato.
— Ashley Mason