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Bauer Calls Baker & Banker 'Tired'; Roth Digs Cholo Soy

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Inside Baker & Banker [Photo: Baker & Banker/Facebook]

When Bauer first visited Baker & Banker, he was wowed by the "stylish" brasserie's "elegant details" and awarded it three stars. But over the following three years, he thinks things have gone slightly downhill. Now, "the menu feels a little dated" and the prices have "risen significantly." The mirin- and soy-braised black cod main dish was $26 when the spot first opened; now, Bauer observes, it's $33 (and "overcooked" at that). Desserts, like a dark-chocolate layer cake that's "one of the best you'll find," remain a highlight, but they couldn't erase Bauer's other gripes. He singled out an unfortunate "sullen" host who seemed to telegraph, "I hate my job and don't want to be here." Overall, "it seems as if the restaurant has a case of the doldrums." Two stars. [Chron]

Meanwhile, Anna Roth paid a visit to Cholo Soy, located in an empty atrium of Plaza Adelante at 19th and Mission, and found "the kind of no-frills atmosphere that reminds me of a market stand in Latin America," in a very good way. "Nearly everyone starts the meal with ceviche," and it was clear why: "It's the best ceviche I've ever had, bright and fresh-tasting and full of the vibrancy of cilantro and lemon juice." The price is right, too: "At $5 a plate, this is the best seafood deal in town." Other highlights included a "breathtakingly tender" haunch of lamb and a duo of potato salads, one "rich and buttery," another that "revealed its complexity over time." "I look forward to returning and sampling it all in the near future." [SF Weekly]

Jonathan Kauffman checked out Mockingbird in Uptown Oakland, where he found "the prettiest chopped salad ($9) you've seen in months." The spot's owners "operate in that mode that's working so well for Oakland these days: equal parts smart and humble, welcoming in lieu of slick," and the value-for-money equation is off the charts: "No San Francisco restaurant would charge you only $17 for chicken rubbed in Moroccan spices, whose skin is just a few bubbles shy of cracklins and whose juices pool underneath Israeli couscous and fried Brussels sprout leaves...or ask $18 for a giant bowl of fat, sweet clams and mussels with fennel, braised leeks and potatoes." And with that, Kauffman gives the spot his mark of excellence. [Tasting Table]

Alex Hochman ran into a unique problem at Aliment, when a server had to run to the corner store to get change for his cash payment on not one, but two separate occasions. "Casually indifferent" service problems were a bummer, but the minute Hochman got used to it, he had a "phenomenal" server that turned things on their head. Food-wise, Hochman had some hits at brunch. The short-rib hash, with "luscious hunks of meat and perfectly runny slow-cooked eggs," lived up to its price tag of $18, and the juicy fried chicken's "well-seasoned crust shattered into crumby shards on impact." (Not so impressive were the accompanying savory waffle balls, which he deemed "globs of mush.") At dinner, the cavatelli was "not-to-be missed," the hanger steak was "downright addictive" and the brussels sprouts were "one of the best renditions in town." "I left convinced that Aliment can be a worthy dining spot, but knowing that it depends heavily on who's working the floor." [Examiner]

Luke Tsai investigated the scene at Hog's Apothecary, and what he found was an "eminently quaffable encyclopedia of California's craft beer scene." The food is no red-headed stepchild, either: "Hog's Apothecary serves good — and, in some cases, exceedingly fancy — sausages made from animals that [co-owner John] Streit butchers himself in-house," and Tsai favored the "foot long" corn dog, with its "smoky depth of flavor" and "light, fluffy, flavorful" shell. Entrees like the chicken-fried chicken and roast leg of lamb shone, and salads like a "lovely" smoked eggplant and melon combo were also strong. Overall, the food was a bit pricey for Tsai's liking, but the tariff is worth it for the amazing beer selection. "This is a draft list that's liable to get anyone with even a modest interest in beer started down the path toward full-tilt geekery." [EBX]


786 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94108 (415) 829-2737 Visit Website

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