Always looking to congratulate himself for his previous work, Michael Bauer updated his previous reviews of Atelier Crenn, Dominique Crenn's workshop for creating "poetic culinaria." Even though Bauer "still didn't get it" on his last visit, something clicked on his third review. (Attention SF Chronicle ombudsman: your prices are incorrect.) The descriptions "can still be obscure and off-putting" and "the menu reads like the directions for a scavenger hunt," but Bauer is able to indulge Crenn's whimsy when the food speaks for itself. Highlights include king crab in "a rich brown crab broth in a bowl shaped like a snow-covered volcano, with a sprinkling of tarragon powder, streamers of gossamer fennel and sprigs of celery." Also: "a dehydrated and roasted stick of salsify that looked suspiciously like my dog's Bully Stick." That's poetry on a plate right there. Three-and-a-half stars.
Josh Sens missed his chance to book a legit reservation at the very hot-right-now Lazy Bear and ended up paying "some 30 percent above face value" for the $120 tickets on Craigslist. His review says as much about The Way We Eat Now as it does about David Barzelay's food, which Sens has nothing but praise for. He also describes the setting as "the Ahwahnee gone mid-century modern"— a fine dining experience where the vibe is more dinner party than tasting menu. Sens admits he arrived at the restaurant "in a foul mood" due to the ticket snafu, but he quickly warms to the atmosphere and eventually finds himself talking about edible soil and "discussing the virtues of crumbled toasted rye with the avid gamer and gourmand seated beside [him]." Highlights include: ocean trout in squid ink and scallop sauce, pork jowl marinated in asian pear, and Maya Erickson's dessert: koji rice pudding with matcha and huckleberry compote. Three Stars.
On a more casual front, Anna Roth reconnected with her inner 12-year-old at Urban Putt in the Mission, where she was forced to confront a long-running fear of mini golf. After the initial realization that you can't drink and golf at the same time, the disappointments keep stacking up like so many missed putts. Although there's some grade-A first-date people watching, the food in the snack bar is as unremarkable as any you might find in any putt-putt course in America. Cocktails and off-course decor were likewise underwhelming, but there are a few highlights like the extensive draft beer list, the mini-corn dogs and at least the fried chicken component of the chicken and waffles.
Finally, because we are contractually obligated to keep an eye on local toast prices, Patty Unterman headed to the Outer Richmond to find a $6 plate of toast at Marla Bakery. This isn't toaster toast though, it's "extravagantly thick slices of ciabatta, sourdough batard and levain" toasted in the very same wood oven they just came out of and then slathered in house-cultured sea salt butter. They're $3 a piece and you'll need to eat two. As for the actual dinner, Unterman says she'd go back to Marla just for the $30 New York steak. Likewise, the buttered bread pudding "floored" her even after an already substantial meal.