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Bauer Still Likes Oenotri; Roth Underwhelmed at Fog City

Inside Oenotri. [Photo: Star5112/Flickr]

Change may be afoot at the Chron's Tower of Bauer, but Michael took a comforting visit to Napa's Oenotri, where he found the food as good as he remembered, despite some departures in the kitchen. He loved the pizza (with its steroidal basil), enjoyed the "admirable" charcuterie, wanted more of the "magnificent" albacore collar appetizer and dug in to the "excellent" desserts. Service, sometimes a Bauer peeve, was also excellent: "the waiters clearly know what they are doing, and they do it very well." All told, Oenotri "continues to set the standards for Italian food in downtown Napa." Three stars. [Chron]

Anna Roth, meanwhile, kept closer to home with a review of the recently reopened Fog City (neé Fog City Diner). There, she found a "beautiful space, but something about it feels a little impersonal, like it belongs just off the lobby of a hotel." Everything is technically excellent, says Roth, but "the dishes never quite soar." The much-lauded spatchcocked chicken "isn't a serious contender for Zuni's title, but it's very nice in its own right," and the burger "falls short of transcendent." Although it's "hard to find many flaws in the kitchen's cooking," it somehow lacked soul, as did the crowd, "a bland, well-heeled group straight from central casting." Even so, a booth at Fog City still offers "a perfectly San Francisco moment," and it's sure to continue as a tourist hot spot: "Fog City might not have the spark to ignite the hearts and minds of locals, but it's at least good enough for someone else to write home about." [SFWeekly]

Josh Sens made his way to La Urbana to check out the "new high-minded echo chamber." The spot is "fun but flawed, by turns satisfying and flabbergasting." The food rarely misses: "The kitchen shows a deft touch with haute dishes," says Sens, "but it also has a handle on the humble and the hearty." "More irksome to me was the restaurant's sluggish rhythm—long, awkward interludes between courses in a setting too cacophonous for easy conversation." Once final plans for a mercado and next-door taqueria take shape, Sens hopes "La Urbana's pent-up energy will spill into its overflow space, freeing the dining room of distractions and diffusing the noise." Two stars. [SF Mag]

Patricia Unterman filed a review for Inner Richmond Cantonese joint Hong Kong Lounge II, where she found shrimp that "after forty years of eating and writing ... made me shed a tear of wonder." Dark, moist squab "was further evidence of the technical prowess of this kitchen and its use of impeccable raw materials," lobster "reprised the sensual pleasure of the spot shrimp," and you should probably "be prepared to drop everything the moment the steamer of Shanghai dumplings hits the table." Drop by before noon and you'll probably catch Unterman going full dim sum. [Unterman on Food]

Jonathan Kauffman checked out Guddu de Karahi, the new spot from Zulfiqar "Guddu" Haider, former owner of Lahore Karahi. "Thank goodness Guddu couldn't stay away," says Kauffman, who calls the Sunset location "a neater and better-ventilated setup than the old place." Tandoori fish, blistered naan and karahi chicken all shine. "We've only been back for one date with the fish, and we're already contemplating getting off Tinder." [Tasting Table]

The reviews kept rolling this week with Molly Gore's visit to Green Heart Foods, an "elegant, uncommon and a little bit enchanting" Mission spot that serves healthy food that actually tastes good. The avocado toast "uncovers refreshing restraint and textural discipline," the Green Heart Smoothie "looks like pond sludge but tastes better and (probably) does unspeakably good things for your body" and the farro salad makes for a memorable "Elysian dish." "Green Heart Foods exudes positive feelings, in part because everyone who works here seems buoyant, healthy ... I don't want to buy in, but resistance is futile." [Examiner]

Luke Tsai dug in to an obscure regional specialty at Classic Guilin Rice Noodles, where he found a dish, "a deceptively simple combination of noodles, meat, pickled vegetables, and broth," that's said to date back 2,000 years. A "generous portion of white rice noodles with "tender chunks of beef brisket" or "crispy pork" are topped with "chopped scallions, roasted peanuts, minced raw garlic, half a braised soy sauce egg, and — most intriguingly — pieces of pickled longbean." Finish your toppings and pour beef broth over the remaining noodles for a soupy finish to the meal. "I know I'm already looking forward to going back for another bowl." [EBX]

La Urbana

661 Divisadero, San Francisco, CA 94115 415 440 4500 Visit Website

Fog City

1300 Battery St, San Francisco, CA 94111 415 982 2000 Visit Website


1425 First St., Napa CA