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Bauer Digs Santé's Revamp; Kauffman Okays Roka Akor

Photo: Patricia Chang

Bauer always knew that the food at Santé, the six-year-old restaurant at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, was great, but he just couldn't get past the decor. Happily, after a four-month remodel the spot no longer looks "like a comfortable place for a spa meal in the 1990s": it's got a "dark, sexy nightclub vibe" that's much more suited to chef Andrew Cain's menu. Bauer observes that the four-course menu ($95) matched with wines ($40) is "a bargain relative to other restaurants of this caliber," and with dishes like the "beautifully presented dish of diver scallops," butter-poached Maine lobster, and "a dramatic yin-yang" of "frothy, brothy" risotto, Bauer went home happy. "With everything now in place, Santé is worth a trip to the spa." Three stars. [Chron]

Jonathan Kauffman has a few guidelines for dining at Roka Akor. Number one? Order the shishitos: "spackled in char, doused with a tart, ponzu-like sauce, and finished with shaved bonito flakes," they're one of Kauffman's favorites. Same goes for the "satiny" butterfish tataki and head-turning sashimi (as for the sushi rolls, "you've had better.") The "heart of the kitchen" is the grill, from whence come "tender chunks" of aged rib eye and a "succulent" fillet of miso-marinated black cod. "It's easy to get overwhelmed by the big menu," says Kauffman, but the grilled and raw items are where it's at. [Tasting Table]

Wendy Hector is in love with the food at La Fusion in the Financial District, where "everything about this place, from the stellar service to the rainbow of sauces to each well-formed dish, is everything I want San Francisco dining to be." She particularly likes the Zuni-style roast chicken that "haunts my thoughts daily," the "best empanadas I've ever had," and the "spectacular" sauces. "I realize that I'm babbling in superlatives, but it's well-justified, I swear." [Examiner]

Luke Tsai visited A16's new Oakland outpost, calling it "the most exciting Italian in the East Bay." Tsai loved "boldness of ocean flavors: created by chef Rocky Maselli, noting the daily selection of crudo occasional whole-fish entrées. A bucatini dish was among Tsai's "most memorable bites," but the "gorgeously blistered" Neapolitan-style pizzas, "uniformly excellent" contorno and honey panna cotta all impressed. Less excellent were the rachetta and paccheri dishes, but despite "big city prices", A16 excites. [EBX]

· All Week in Reviews [~ ESF ~]


2355 Chestnut Street, , CA 94123 (415) 771-2216 Visit Website

Roka Akor

801 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94133 415-362-8887


100 Boyes Blvd, Sonoma, CA 9547