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Bauer Revisits Farmerbrown, Roth Noshes on Meatballs

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Photo: mhaithaca/Flickr

Michael Bauer last reviewed Farmerbrown when it opened in 2006, and he's surprised to find that Jay Foster's food is far better this time around. He loves the "gentle spice" of the the seafood gumbo ("one of the best versions around"), the fried chicken that's "honey colored, with a smooth, crunchy coating and a moist interior," and the rib plate, which comes with "exceptional slaw." The red-velvet cake had Bauer reminiscing about touring Southern bakeshops, and the "urban" decor felt at home with the restaurant's transitional neighborhood. "In the end, hospitality wins out, and Foster's food is better than ever." Two and a half stars. [Chron]

Perhaps spurred by cold and foggy weather, Anna Roth also revisited a comfort food standby, hitting the Outer Mission's Emmy's Spaghetti Shack for a dose of its "irreverent, rock 'n' roll atmosphere" and large servings of spaghetti and meatballs, "a very good rendition of the dish most of us have loved since childhood." The rest of the menu is a "mixed bag", from a disappointing Caesar and uncheesy mac and cheese to pleasant linguine and risotto. The "brassy," "sassy" service may be slow and the wait may be long, but you can always get a drink next door, "secure in the knowledge that you'll be able to soak it up later with a steaming plate of carbs and meat, your reward for joining the cult of the Shack." [SF Weekly]

Jonathan Kauffman applied a phoenix analogy to Albany's China Village, which has been closed for 15 months following a fire. It's finally reopened, and the food is "worthy of the affection" of happy East Bay diners. Kauffman still thrills to the cold plates, what with "the thrum of garlic animating spicy bacon-cut pork" and the "tingly Sichuan-peppercorn dressing on flower-cut pork kidney", but says the water-boiled fish fillet has "lost some of its scorching power" while keeping the "satiny texture" of the fish. [Tasting Table]

It's a tamale comeback for Alex Hochman (and not the one you're thinking of). Hochman checked out The Roosevelt (neé Roosevelt Tamale Parlor), a revamp by former employees of...Emmy's Spaghetti Shack. Hochman adored the round tamale, which was "smothered with a pulsating house-made red gravy and tasting strongly of just-shucked corn and rich pork" and "bore little resemblance to the dried-out specimens often found around town." The mole was "lifeless" and the plantain and carnitas empanada "mushy", though the jambalaya and albondigas soup were favorites. "A neighborhood institution has been revived." [Examiner]

West Berkeley's Stella Nonna "feels surprisingly modern for a place specializing in "grandma food," and, though the name's Italian, Luke Tsai found "the best Korean fried chicken I've eaten in the Bay Area", not the mention the "weirdest entrée": Hampshire pork carnitas, a dish of "citrus-braised pork shoulder served next to a chile relleño stuffed with mac and cheese (!), both of which sat in a pool of ancho chile sauce, with a couple of long "ears" of sweet cornbread on the side." The decor is "awfully handsome" and overall, Tsai "dug the vibe." [EBX]


25 Mason St., San Francisco, CA