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Bauer Bummed by Nick's; Roth Craves Ambition at 1601

Nick's Cove. [Photo: turtle1323/Flickr]

After a disappointing visit to Nick's Cove in 2011, Bauer chalked it up to change-of-ownership jitters, and then somehow didn't get back to do an update review until now. But even with two whole years to improve, Nick's hasn't gotten better: while the signature oysters are "still worth ordering," portions are scant and prices are high on other dishes. A crab Louie was "uninspired," the Alaskan halibut was "poorly cooked," and a pot de creme was "grainy." A dirty bathroom and weak coffee complete the lousy experience, and a former three-star restaurant is now down to 1.5 stars. [Chron]

Anna Roth was excited about the potential offered by 1601 Bar & Kitchen, SF's first Sri Lankan restaurant, but despite obvious chops in the kitchen, it didn't pack enough Sri Lanka for her taste. "Disappointingly, chef Brian Fernando decided to focus on California-Sri Lankan fusion in the form of small plates...San Francisco's already awash in Cali-fusion tapas; it seems like the team had a chance to boldly go where no restaurant had gone before, and whiffed it." Winners include "meaty, succulent" lamb and pork meatballs, "delightfully traditional" mulligatawny, and "gorgeous plating," but the desolate location means the food needs to be destination-worthy, and she thinks it needs a little more work to get there. [SF Weekly]

Alex Hochman takes a potshot at Bauer's Beteltong and Hakkasan reviews to kick off his paean to Beijing Restaurant: "Recent rants from a well-known restaurant critic could have one easily believing that San Francisco's Chinese food scene is nearly dead, confined to costly dim sum and lettuce-cup chicken served only in downtown office buildings or on tony shopping streets." But authentic fare can still be found at Beijing, where jian bing pancakes, Chinese-style pork burgers, and a "scorcher" of cumin lamb are all winners, and unusual dishes like fennel dumplings and a potato tower won his heart. "I don't buy the argument that our town's Chinese food has gone downhill. It's just that to try the most innovative and interesting stuff, one needs to at least occasionally leave his or her comfort zone, both literally and figuratively. Bauer, ya burnt! [Examiner]

Finally, Luke Tsai devotes his review this week to three iterations of the humble grilled cheese, beginning with the first Oakland outpost of wannabe megachain The Melt, which was a bummer. "The food was just okay...the aged cheddar that the restaurant uses was fairly nondescript, and it was hard to tell the difference between a sandwich that came on sourdough and another that came on plain old 'artisan white.'" A better iteration is found at The Sacred Wheel, whose "excellent" sandwiches come with "legendary" PBR tomato soup, and his favorite is at Dogwood Bar, which boasts "a bread-to-cheese ratio that's just right" and killer add-ons. "Here, finally, the grilled cheese sandwich is elevated to high art...priced at just $5, plus an extra dollar or two for each add-on, it's a relative bargain." [EBX]

The Melt

1 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111 Visit Website

Nick's Cove

23240 California 1, Marshall, CA 94940