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Bauer Is Iffy on Urchin; Roth Likes Syhabout's New Spots

Plus: reviews of Italian Homemade Company and Haven's new chef.

Urchin Bistrot.
Urchin Bistrot.
Patricia Chang

"Who do you think will come here?" asked Bauer's dining companion during his visit to Urchin Bistrot, which he reviewed Sunday. (Bauer's on vacation this week, meaning no Thursday Update review.) The question underscored Bauer's impression of the restaurant, the third from Ame and Terra restaurateurs Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani. "The interior seems tailored to the young Mission set, but the menu appeals to the more established diner," pondered Bauer. "Whether the two will come together is yet to be determined." He thought the food was "generally well-prepared," yet lacked a final touch to bring the flavors together. "Spaghettini with sea urchin in a creamy egg-yolk sauce would have bloomed with a squirt of lemon to brighten it." He was pleased with the steak tartare, the radicchio salad and Doumani's berry gratin, but concluded that "he restaurant hasn't found its core, relying instead on a fabricated sense of coolness that feels a little unnatural." Two stars. [Chron]

Anna Roth pulled double duty this week, reviewing two James Syhabout restaurants: Box and Bells and The Dock at Linden Street. She favored the snacks at both spots, dubbing Box and Bells "a good spot for nibbly fare and cocktails," albeit with high prices and small portions. She echoed that sentiment at The Dock at Linden Street, but enjoyed the grilled Monterey squid and the ling cod po'boy. She liked the play on American flavors on both restaurants' menus, and concluded that Syhabout has two more hits on his hands. [SF Weekly]

Cynthia Salaysay visited North Beach deli Italian Homemade Company, praising the menu's straightforward, unembellished fare. She noted that the piadine (a flatbread hailing from Rimini) was "most delicious when, after sitting a bit, it absorbed flavors around it," especially when sopping up the meatballs and tomato sauce. Salasay found the owners friendly and welcoming, concluding, "It's nothing fancy, which keeps it from being hipper-than-thou. The deli is exactly what it looks like, and the food tastes exactly how it looks." [Examiner]

Luke Tsai revisited Haven, Daniel Patterson's Jack London Square outpost, to take in its newest iteration, "high-end comfort food" from Charlie Parker. Tsai enjoyed the burger ("It's a fancy burger, but not too fancy") with a housemade sesame-and-poppy seed bun, as well as more complex dishes like the Parisian dumplings and the roasted chicken. He points out the menu's simple descriptions "tend to mask the creativity of the cooking," so be sure to "ask your server lots of questions before ordering." [EBX]

Heidi Brown