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Bauer Not Feeling Flora; Boer Finds Lungomare Uneven

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The iconic sign at Flora. [Photo: stewf/Flickr]

It's a full-to-bursting week of reviews this week, so let's get to it. Michael Bauer's latest Top 100 return visit is to Oakland's Flora, which is showing its age as neighboring newcomer Duende steals the spotlight. From an "ill-conceived" lamb pancetta and chevre appetizer to an "unwieldy" pork chop to a hamburger that was a "huge disappointment," things aren't looking good in the kitchen. Luckily, the bar still puts out a decent version of Bauer's favorite cocktail, the Corpse Reviver #2, leading him to conclude that "Flora may be attracting the neighborhood, but it's not good enough to lure me across the bay." Overall rating: two stars, and 1.5 for food. [Chron]

Meanwhile, Chron critic Nicholas Boer tackled Lungomare in Jack London Square (with good timing, considering owner Chris Pastena just opened Tribune Tavern on Wednesday). Like Luke Tsai before him, Boer found the restaurant uneven: one night brought "silky" fennel soup, excellent grilled octopus, and tasty asparagus; the next visit, gritty razor clams, iffy swordfish crudo, and poorly presented lamb. Throw in an "uneven" brunch and "slapstick" service, and you get two stars (though the lovely waterfont atmosphere lands three). [Chron]

For his monthly review, Josh Sens tackled the wonders of Kronnerburger, which earned a rave from Anna Roth last week. Like her, he's really feeling Chris Kronner's wonder-patty, which he deems "among the best in town," with "an appealing balance of sweet and salty, bright and fatty." (Sens and Roth also share an affection for the burger's blood-dripping juiciness.) "Standout sides" include the poutine with beef-cheek gravy, "pretty much perfect" onion rings, and "the finest iceberg wedge I've had." Despite "a masculine aesthetic that at times mutates into juvenile machismo," the food is enough to earn the budding burger empire 2.5 stars. [SF Mag]

Down the street at Hi-Lo BBQ, Patricia Unterman is also loving the hipster meat aesthetic, dubbing the "sleek, airy, unabashedly San Francisco style barbecue place" the "best restaurant to open in San Francisco this year." From the "meat nirvana" of the brisket to the "spectacularly delicious" sides to the excellent salads, she's loving all of it, and thinks that power couple Ryan Ostler and Katherine Zacher, formerly of Bruno's and The Broken Record, are poised for big things. [Unterman on Food]

In a shift from all the meat, Anna Roth decided to sample the two local restaurants owned by vegetarian cults, Golden Era and Ananda Fuara. Alongside vegan booster and sometime Eater contributor Laura Beck, she dug into Golden Era's "entirely delicious" egg foo young, rice claypots, and spring rolls, but found the fake meat dishes less appealing. Meanwhile, Ananda Fuara's "admirably moist" neatloaf and "complex" dal were appealing, though nothing blew her away. "Was forgoing meat for a few meals my path to spiritual enlightenment? Of course not. But it did make me more conscious of the meat I eat every day without thinking about it." [SF Weekly]

As we pour one out for newly transplanted New Yorker Jesse Hirsch (mourn ya 'till we join ya, Hirschinator), we welcome the first in the Examiner's new quartet of critics, our very own Wendy Hector. She's off to Garaje in SOMA, where the "street food sans national borders" includes a "darn good cheeseburger," "moist, flavorful" chicken tacos, and other "perfect antidote for a hangover" fare. Though she'd like a little more heat ("when I see Thai and Mexican on a menu, my taste buds expect a good searing"), she's happy overall: "Some of it purrs, some of it chugs and some of it stalls, but for the most part, the food is hearty, tasty and cheap." [Examiner]

Finally, Luke Tsai has a good time at Korean-American diner Pretty Lady, where a fist-bump from the owner is "an endearing quirk at a restaurant full of endearing quirks." While Pretty Lady "doesn't really do Asian fusion — it isn't one of those places where some young hotshot chef is putting out sous-vide pork belly," it delivers on comfort-food staples like "more or less perfect" breakfast burritos (with or without kimchi), "simple, home-style" French toast, and a "filling, inexpensive lunch" of pork marinated in gochujang. "Certainly there's lots of better Korean food to be had in Oakland, and there are a few other places where you can get a proper greasy-spoon-style breakfast," but for the charming fusion of the two and the sweet service, Tsai is more than pleased. [EBX]

Hi Lo BBQ

3416 19th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 874-9921 Visit Website

Flora

1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

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