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Bauer Digs Maven, But Not South

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Inside Maven. [Photo: Gi Paoletti Design Lab]

With Friday's spate of openings, we didn't have time left for Week in Reviews, so today features a double dose of Bauer. On Thursday, he headed to Maven for a re-review, after a disappointing Top 100 visit kept it off this year's list. Happily, new chef Isaac Miller's food "has heft and style," and "stylish" king salmon crudo, a tasty radish and goat cheese quenelle, and a pork chop dusted with Parmesan. "All the cocktails, like the food, are well balanced," and service is "always on point." All in all, it's "a menu that both delights and surprises, a startling juxtaposition to the casual interior." Three stars. [Chron]

Not so successful is South at SFJAZZ, Charles Phan's other entrant in the Southern + cocktail genre alongside Hard Water, which Bauer liked. The "noncommitted and lethargic" food like an "unseasoned" pickled shrimp salad and "harsh, burnt" chicken gumbo didn't impress, although he did like the cocktails, fried chicken, and succotash. Add in the confusing dynamic of SFJAZZ's service to non-concertgoers ("I got the feeling that the restaurant didn't really care whether outsiders came in") and the "cold and impersonal" design, and it's a big disappointment. "I wondered why one of the top chefs in the city would let a prime venue like this languish...At South it feels as if the restaurant is fulfilling an obligation to feed a captive crowd, who have plenty of other options in the area." 1.5 stars. [Chron]

Meanwhile at the Chron, Allen Matthews checked out newish Fable in the Castro, where he found lots to like: "The narrow spot is a treat...[dishes are] swell." He particularly likes the chicken and arugula salad, a play on Zuni's iconic chicken with bread salad, which "floored" him, as well as the mustard-crusted braised pork cheeks and the little gem salad with green goddess dressing. He does advise skipping the sides, though: "A server noted that some guests try them as appetizers. We tried the mac and cheese and the grilled asparagus, and neither could hold a candle to the regular starters." Add in "whimsical" decor and an "attentive and knowledgeable" staff, and it's enough to merit 2.5 stars. [Chron]

Anna Roth didn't file this week, thanks to the SF Weekly's best-of issue. But there's all kinds of food commentary from her in there that's worth checking out. [SF Weekly]

Over at the Examiner, Molly Gore is first out of the gate with a review of Coqueta, which has just hit the one-month mark. (It'll likely be Bauer's Sunday review within the next couple of weeks; he's already visited twice.) She has mostly positive things to say, having enjoyed the "restrained and deft" seafood, the "reliable" skewers, and the "silken and tender" Monterey calamari. A few dishes, like a chickpea pancake and flourless chocolate cake, fell flat, but the tasty cocktails and Michael Chiarello's charm, not to mention the "high and grand" space, win the day. [Examiner]

Luke Tsai wraps up the week with a visit to Tribune Tavern, which is also fresh off its one-month anniversary. "Less than two months after opening, the restaurant already seems to have established itself as the go-to spot for the downtown Oakland after-work crowd," he writes, with all the raucousness that implies. Huw Thornton's menu is highly carnivorous; "in the course of a single meal, it's easy to dine on the flesh of five or six different animals," and the "silky and unctuous" ox tongue, and trotter-and-cheek fritters were winners. Entrees like fried chicken and bangers & mash were less interesting, though a "decadent" side of colcannon was a winner. "In the end, whatever you think of Tribune Tavern's food — which I loved, mostly — it's hard not to like the idea of the place and to be glad that it's open." [EBX]


Pier 5 The Embarcadero, , CA 94111 (415) 704-8866 Visit Website


598 Haight Street, , CA 94117 (415) 829-7982 Visit Website

Tribune Tavern

401 13th St, Oakland, CA 94612 510 452 8742 Visit Website

South at SFJazz

201 Franklin St., San Francisco, CA