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Bauer Down on La Condesa; Roth Kinda Hates Coqueta

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La Condesa. [Photo: jeremybrooks/Flickr]

Bauer's Thursday check-in takes him up to St. Helena for a meal at upscale Mexican spot La Condesa, where the food isn't keeping pace with similar spots like Nopalito, Nido, and Padrecito: "Gone are some of the creative tostadas, huaraches and main courses, replaced by more expected items." Lowlights included "characterless" cochinita pibil, beef with "very little flavor" in the brisket dish and tostada, and a "too sweet" pot de creme. He suggests the chicken rojo and the "excellent" housemade ice cream instead, but it's still no love affair: "The more expected, pared-down menu and uneven execution left me wanting." 1.5 stars. [Chron]

Also feeling disappointed: Anna Roth, who had a seriously crappy experience at Coqueta that started with the cold shoulder from Michael Chiarello: "All through the meal, the chef returns to the same two or three tables several times, and ignores everyone else. If I'd come to bask in the glow of Chiarello's celebrity, I would have been left out in the cold." The food isn't much better, with "gritty and acrid" octopus, white gazpacho that "had a texture and astringent flavor that brought paint primer to mind," and meatballs "so salty they were inedible." Aside from an OK paella and a decent sandwich, dinner is a bust, and while the cocktails are better, they need editing, particularly a jamon iberico-infused drink that was "like drinking a cold glass of prosciutto." In the end, "the food revealed itself to be a lot of show without much substance." [SF Weekly]

Meanwhile, Jonathan Kauffman was eating well at Farmshop in Marin, where Jeffrey Cerciello's California cuisine "is in a familiar vein, but with verve and precision." Highlights included a Jidori chicken "too robust to be a throwaway," and "the best thing [he's] eaten all month," a blackened artichoke appetizer with apricots, radishes, olives, and burrata. It's "just the thing with which to impress a date." [Tasting Table]

Also feeling the love: Cynthia Salaysay, who adores Anda Piroshki at the 331 Cortland Marketplace. "They have cute shapes, like crescent moons and fish, are golden brown with egg wash and generously filled," and she loves the interiors, too, from her preferred potato and onion to the "pornographically named" (but delicious) Bunny's Delight with tomato and carrot. "My only real wish is that 331 Cortland had more seating, the better to eat fresh piroshki. They are best warm — eaten cold, the pastry tastes slightly stale. They do reheat nicely, which makes the business' Good Eggs delivery option appealing." [Examiner]

Luke Tsai embraces the patchwork Asian Cajun/Hawaiian flavors at Hang Ten Boiler in Alameda, "the very definition of a casual restaurant." (Well, except for non-carnivores: with both meat and seafood in abundance, "sorry, vegetarians, this isn't the place for you.") The "perfect union" of Manila clams and garlic butter, crawfish that "had more meat than most," and fried catfish "that would please any soul food lover" are highlights, and the only problem might be the wait: it's already "one of the most popular restaurants in Alameda." [EBX]

Coqueta

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

La Condesa

1320 Main Street, St Helena, CA 94574

La Condesa

1320 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574

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