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Bauer Down on Va de Vi; Roth Pans Stock in Trade

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Va de Vi. [Photo: Hungry Hungry Hippie]

Michael Bauer has had a couple of disappointments on his Top 100 return visits of late. After last week's unpleasant stop at Willi's Wine Bar, he was also discouraged by the state of affairs at Walnut Creek's Va de Vi, where new chef Andy Phillips has yet to let his creative impulses fly. "Phillips needs the ability to reset the menu to bring it back to what it was and renew the commitment to showcasing local, sustainable producers," says Bauer, noting that four dishes had some form of balsamic vinegar and arugula, while three each featured wasabi, truffles, and soy. "For a global menu, the food now feels strangely provincial." Overall rating: two stars, and a likely miss from the Top 100 for the first time in nine years. [Chron]

Anna Roth, however, might be having an even worse run: after a pretty lousy go of it at Caña, she was blown away by Stock in Trade chef Jake Kwan-Rosenbush's heavy hand with cheese, sausage, and bacon, bacon, bacon: he's "supercharged every dish with high-fat ingredients without discernible purpose." Everything she eats, from mac and cheese to the bacon in a bloody Mary, is gross and greasy, and the high prices, Marina crowd, and music "so loud you can feel the bass thumping through your chair" are the final nails in the coffin. This is as straight-up a pan as they come. [SF Weekly]

Tasting Table is increasingly shifting Jonathan Kauffman back into the role of critic, and with a three- out of three-star review today, his trip to The Olema is an unqualified rave. "[Daniel] DeLong's food is serene and seasonal, yet never predictable," notes Kauffman, and every dish, from a "pure" spring-vegetable bouillabaisse to a "remarkable" pan-roasted broccolini, thrilled him. "It's a stop-time kind of meal, eaten in the setting it deserves." [Tasting Table]

In his continued quest to find the absolute strangest places in town to eat, Jesse Hirsch manages to suss out hilariously-named Zteamers, a Russian restaurant inside Archimedes Banya bathhouse. "Not for the delicate spa flower," Archimedes is "a place where old men get smacked with tree branches and where spa fashion consists of pointy wool hats and no pants." The fare is similarly hearty, but "stout" chicken kasha, "leaden" piroshki, and "tasty" pelmeni might not be the best fare for a 220-degree steam room. Hirsch instead recommends the "surprisingly light" red-caviar blini and the "simple, light, and fresh" smoked-salmon plate. If for no other reason, be sure to click through to the review for the absurd stock photo on Archimedes' website that he found. [Examiner]

Finally, Luke Tsai encounters a mixed bag at Lungomare, which is in line with the Early Word comments we heard from the non-pros yesterday. An "outstanding" roasted branzino and "stunning" ribbolita won his heart, but "disappointing" (and, frequently, undercooked) pasta, not to mention unpolished service, high prices, and a slightly desolate atmosphere, didn't escape his notice. "The restaurant has yet to achieve the level of classiness it needs to feel special-occasion-worthy...I look optimistically toward a future when Lungomare becomes the kind of destination restaurant that it aspires to be." [EBX]

Stock in Trade

2036 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA 94123 415 921 2221 Visit Website

Va de Vi Bistro & Wine Bar

1511 Mount Diablo Boulevard, , CA 94596 (925) 979-0100 Visit Website

Va de Vi

1511 Mt Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, CA