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Sens Raves About Sir & Star; Bauer Says Central Kitchen's Improved, But the Music's Still Too Loud

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Josh Sens has big words of praise for Sir & Star, the new restaurant from the Manka's team up in Olema. He calls it the "best new restaurant of the calendar year," and as Bauer did earlier this week, he writes that the food by co-chefs Margaret Gradé and Daniel DeLong is all spot-on and the vibe is very "earthy-money West Marin." The service, though, could use a little help, and he implies that Gradé may want to reconsider manning the front of the house, because she comes off as more of "a ghostly innkeeper from a Scooby-Doo cartoon" than a proper host. [SF Mag]

Meanwhile, Mr. Bauer pays a return visit to Central Kitchen and finds it much improved one year in. He says that the restaurant "is finding ? or has found ? its core" and chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow are "at their best when blending refined and rustic elements," as in a seared squid dish with squid ink fregola, or a deep-fried brandade croquette with aleppo and oyster emulsion. He's still upset about the noise level, though, which he says only got worse as the dining room filled up and the music volume was apparently turned up later in the meal. "I'm generally tolerant of loud restaurants, but Central Kitchen is one of the worst I've encountered," he says. "It's to the point that when someone mentions it, the pounding bass is the first thing I remember." In the end they get two and a half stars, with three for food. [Chron]

And lastly, we have a review of new tapas spot Donostia in Los Gatos from the Chron's Mandy Erickson. She says the Spanish tortillas, or mini-omelets, are "excellent," the mussels in white wine and smoked paprika are "exciting," and the scallop salad is "worth ordering." And like everything that Bauer doesn't review, it gets two stars. [Chron]

Central Kitchen

3000 20th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 415 826 7004

Sir & Star

10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Olema, CA