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Bauer Loves Picco; Roth Unconvinced at The Cavalier

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[Photo: Colby Palmer/Flickr]
Bauer revisited Larkspur's Picco with this week's review, where the "immensely talented" Bruce Hill helms a kitchen that on his last visit Bauer thought "lacked passion." Not so now: there's "electricity" in the air at what Bauer's calling one of "the best" and "nicest looking" restaurants in Marin. The almond-wood-smoked trout "ignited all the senses," the Kennebec fries are "exceptional" and the risotto is " perfect every time." "Picco seems to have climbed back on top." Three stars. [Chron]

Anna Roth checked out new downtown hotspot The Cavalier, where she found the British theme somewhat forced. For all its the iconography, "it feels about as British as Disney's New Orleans Square feels like the French Quarter." It's a "beautifully decorated" space and the menu "hits all the right notes," as with the "elegantly plated" steak-and-oyster pie and "decadent" Welsh rarebit souffle. But the reinvented dishes "didn't always improve on the classics," and Roth wonders who the space is actually meant for. "It just wasn't my cuppa tea." [SF Weekly]

Jonathan Kauffman took a spin at the newly transplanted Pesce, and found Castro denizens energized by the "expansive, bright, marble-and-white-walled" space. Ruggero Gadaldi's menu has changed little since the restaurant's Russian Hill days, from the "creamy" salt-cod purée to the yellowtail crudo to the "succulent" summer squash. The newer flatbreads and cocktails "need a closer edit," but Pesce classics are "just as good in their new surroundings," and Kauffman deems Pesce notable. [Tasting Table]

Alex Hochman paid a visit to 20th Century Cafe, where the nectarine tart left him "wondering if this might be the finest fruit dessert I'd ever taste." But "such is the norm" at this spot, where the sense is of having "stumbled upon some sort of pastry holy grail." Although the lunch options were "not as exhilarating" as the baked goods, Hochman dubbed the Russian honey cake "seven layers of airy, whipped intensity," and the "silky and properly peppered" knish will have you "forgetting New York street carts in no time." Hochman's bottom line? "With fall bounties looming, I can't wait to see what treats will soon be featured." [Examiner]

Josh Sens posted a review of Mason Pacific, calling it "a fine corner bistro in an undefined slice of San Francisco." Chef Sean McTiernan's menu is "laid-back" but precise, with "creative twists" like the "delicate, near-elegant" potato skins and "Californianized" smoked cod brandade. Sens calls the "smoky, salty, and sweet" octopus appetizer "the kitchen's best move," and their burger is "a stunner." All told, this "intimate and amiable" neighborhood spot is "all that anyone could ask for from a spot just down the street." 2.5 stars. [SF Mag]

Patricia Unterman broke her silence with a quick take on Bob's Donuts, where she encountered the "ethereal, warm Bob's crumb doughnut." "Any kind of warm doughnut from Bob's must be eaten on the spot, even if they contravene every diet known to man." [Unterman on Food]

Luke Tsai reports in from Oakland, where when it comes to Pucquio, the pop-up has become the master. The Peruvian spot "still has the temporary, scraped-together feel of a pop-up," but as for the actual food, Pucquio "has hit the ground running." The skills and technique on display with the "refreshing" cold quinoa salad or pulpo al olivo "wouldn't be out of place at any fine-dining temple of gastronomy." Most notable are the cebiches, (like ceviches, but more Peruvian): the "spectacular" mixto cebiche was "in an entirely different league." From the plate-licking good pescado al ajo to the lomo saltado, Tsai approves. [EBX]

· All Week in Reviews [~ ESF ~]

Mason Pacific

1358 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA (415) 374-7185 Visit Website

Pesce Seafood Bar

2223 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114 415-925-8025 Visit Website

The Cavalier

360 Jessie Street, , CA 94103 (415) 321-6000 Visit Website

20th Century Cafe

198 Gough Street, , CA 94102 (415) 621-2380 Visit Website

Picco

320 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, CA

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