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Ad Hoc Satisfies Bauer; Roth Finds Tosca Tasty, Pricey

Ad Hoc by night [Photo: Star5112/Flickr]

Bauer to a ride up to Yountville with this week's review of Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller's casual offshoot, where he found new chef Katie Hagan-Whelchel's transition "seamless" and the restaurant's concept still "fresh and exciting." There's a convivial vibe (and "retro" music that's "loud enough to be distracting"), so "if you want to feel like you're at a dinner party, this is the place to be." He liked the "beautifully presented and executed" sweetbreads and "whimsical" Lucky Charms sundae, as well as the "subtle and balanced" Upgraded Apparatus cocktail, but mistimed service and a lack of menus felt out of sync, "detracting slightly from the overall visit." All told, though, "there's very little that's improvised or impromptu about Ad Hoc. Three stars. [Chron]

Anna Roth headed up to North Beach to check out Tosca Cafe, where she found a great-looking space with more to offer than looks alone. "The open kitchen is turning out very good Italian food, with a heavy dose of Bloomfield's signature focus on meat," with silky braised fennel "so good I found myself eating it straight from the jar," bucatini that was "a perfect, just-chewy-enough version of amatriciana," and a short-rib entree that was "buttery and luscious." But there were some menu missteps and "New York" high prices: "three meatballs, about the size of walnuts, cost $15" and the roast half chicken is $42 ("$84 for a whole chicken is nothing short of highway robbery"). Nevertheless, "Tosca Cafe feels like the place to be in S.F. at this moment." [SFWeekly]

Jonathan Kauffman visited neighborhood gem Contigo, whose approach to tapas "is as Spanish as Delfina's pastas are Italian: respectful, even worshipful, but thoroughly Californian." The tapas tasting menu ($40 per person) brought "small marvels" like "smoky roasted padróns, a bright salad of arugula and persimmons crowned with a plancha-crisped round of goat cheese, and roasted prawns atop a densely flavored arros negre," and Kauffman gave this local favorite a badge of excellence. [Tasting Table]

Wendy Hector investigated La Ciudad de Mexico, a torta outpost off the beaten track of Mexican fare. There, she found tortas replete with "soft and chewy" bread, "lovingly arranged" avocado, tomato, and jalapeño slices and memorable meat filling. "It's hard to pass up the al pastor, pork studded with hunks of pineapple, with its deep, complex flavors and sweet, spicy burn." Overall, La Ciudad is "the kind of place that packs a wallop into its few square feet." [Examiner]

Luke Tsai paid a visit to Mockingbird, the new Uptown Oakland bistro that already feels "grown-up." "If ever a restaurant was tailor-made for 'date night,' this was it." The menu stands out for its "international touches" and "exceedingly reasonable prices:" it's a restaurant "that looks upscale, but where you can get cheery service, candle-lit ambience, and a complete meal — a big hunk of meat and generous sides — for less than $20." Tsai liked the "rich and unctuous" crispy pork torchon, "perfectly cooked" head-on shrimp and squid, and favorite Moroccan-style roasted half-chicken. "Minor flaws aside, I came away from Mockingbird with an admiration for the restaurant's homegrown, scratch-made ethos." [EBX]

Tosca Cafe

242 Columbus Avenue, , CA 94133 (415) 986-9651 Visit Website


1320 Castro Street, , CA 94114 (415) 285-0250 Visit Website

Ad Hoc

6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA

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