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Bauer Still Loves Range; Roth Not Laughing at Cobb's

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[Photo: Range/Facebook]

Bauer revisited well-traveled ground in his update review of Range, the Mission restaurant that "keeps evolving and changing just enough to feel current." (He did his last update review of the place less than a year and a half ago.) "Must-have" coffee-rubbed pork shoulder, "masterful" Dungeness crab rolls and a chicken-liver mousse that's been Bauer's favorite since 2005 all impressed, and a recent interior revamp "seamlessly combines both industrial and refined elements." "Excellent" service and a "well-versed" bar program made Bauer feel at home, and he raved that new party chef Colin Kull's dessert "go into my hall of fame." Though it's been open for eight years, "Range isn't resting on its reputation." Three stars. [Chron]

Roth took an offbeat turn and paid a visit to Cobb's Comedy Club, where she expected to find "bad-good" food like chicken fingers and french fries. What she got was "bad-bad — so bad, in fact, that most of the food ordered remained on the plate." An overlong menu meant nothing was executed well: the wings were "a sad assortment of flaccid chicken bits .. each worse than the last," a steak sandwich was "all gristle," and chicken fingers were "inoffensive only because they tasted like nothing." A cocktail menu that was "straight out of the '90s" provided no respite through drink, and service was as thinly stretched as the menu. "It seems absurd now, looking back, that I'd expected a good dinner." [SF Weekly]

Josh Sens investigated the high-brow sushi offerings at Maruya, which he calls "one of these great sushi restaurants" that sources only the best fish straight from Japan. "This isn't a westernized Japanese joint trotting out tonkatsu and teriyaki," but rather a sushi and sashimi-focused spot where food is treated "with obsessive perfectionism" by chefs Masa Sasaki and Hide Sueyoshi. Grilled amberjack collar "arrives bare and unblushing," "delicate flavors of earth and sea" inhabit the poached tomato, and glistening sardine "is all oily sex appeal," but both chefs show restraint, working silently behind the minimalist bar. "The exactitude of a restaurant like Maruya is thrilling stuff for sushi aesthetes." [SF Mag]

Jonathan Kauffman enjoyed a stellar experience of his own at newly opened Verbena, where he dropped a rare three-star "must-try" rating. It feels like "a grown-up version of Gather," chef Sean Baker's freshman effort: "moody and wood-accented, the space is "abstractly rustic with a tinge of noir," and "few chefs layer flavors the way Baker does" with his vegetable-focused menu. Kauffman's favorite dish was seared artichoke hearts dabbed with green-tomato relish, across "a smear of a pulsatingly rich" aioli made with house-cultured black garlic and rice koji. "You're likely to end your meal as excited about vegetables as the chef." Three stars. [Tasting Table]

In lieu of a review this week, Examiner critic Wendy Hector rounded up SF's most iconic Dungeness crab dishes, including Tadich Grill's crab-stuffed avocado and Woodhouse Fish Co.'s buttered crab roll. [Examiner]

Luke Tsai also visited a newcomer to the scene with his review of Pathos, Berkeley's upscale Greek spot. There, he found "rustic, traditional recipes...presented with new shine" by chef-owner Nick Eftimiou. Eftimiou employs "simple cooking techniques to highlight fresh, high-quality seafood," as with the grilled octopus that's "tender and satisfying" with a "smoky and slightly crisp" exterior. The fried smelts were "crunchy, piping-hot little fishies," the dolmades were "densely packed and meaty," and the moussaka proved to be Tsai's favorite entree on the menu. Though Pathos is pricier than your typical Greek joint, Tsai has "a hard time complaining." [EBX]


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