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Bauer Boosts Wayfare Tavern; Verbena Excites Roth

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[Photo: Joey Parsons/Flickr]

Bauer revisited Tyler Florence's Wayfare Tavern with his update review this week, and found that the chef's "bold, layered style" had matured beyond the "too ambitious and complex" dishes he served back in 2010. Now, previously "inconsistent" food "seems to have found its niche," thanks to chef de cuisine Joey Elenterio's "spectacular rendition" of fried oysters, "brilliant" seared octopus and "well manicured" sturgeon, which join the buttermilk fried chicken and braised short rib on Bauer's hit list. The chocolate-cream pie goes in Bauer's "dessert hall of fame," and despite a few minor glitches, the celebrity chef's restaurant "keeps them coming back" on its own merits. Three stars. [Chron]

Meanwhile, Anna Roth hit new hotspot Verbena to sample chef Sean Baker's complex and sometimes confounding menu. There, she found " one of the most exciting restaurants I've visited in months." Here, meat and seafood options are outshone by Baker's vegetable creations, which are "so gorgeously realized that I didn't care if I couldn't predict what I'd ordered." Plump carrots were "thick and meaty, soft without being mealy," brassicas had "the comforting childhood flavor of broccoli and cheddar taken to the extreme," and cardoons and parsnips served with kale, yogurt and charmoula were "a brilliant example of the whole being better than the sum of its parts." Baker and his team "have clearly put hours of thought and time into each dish, but like all great artists, they manage to make the difficult seem effortless." [SF Weekly]

Kauffman hit Oakland to sample the Korean barbecue stylings of Gogi Time, a "smoky, expansive restaurant" where hot pot or all-you-can-eat barbecue are the requisite order. Dress for success by preparing to be covered in the smell of smokey meat, but with "sweet-and-spicy" marinated pork and "thick squares" of pork belly as options, the smoke is well worth it. The first strips of meat may seem like they cook slowly, but "once the gogi train gets rolling, it's hard to throw on the brakes." Gogi is Korean for "meat," and at this spot, it's gogi time, all the time. [Tasting Table]

Wendy Hector visited Market Street newcomer Proposition Chicken to get her fix of chicken "done just about every way you can imagine it." Of the three varieties of chicken available, "the fried birds come out on top," and "juicy dark meat" wins out over the "somewhat dry" white meat. Rotisserie chicken is "better hot than cold," especially over a "satisfying" salad of tossed crispy kale and "zippy" black pepper dressing, while the tofu chicken's crispiness "became compromised quickly" when it came in contact with slaw and Prop. Chicken's "revelatory" barbecue sauce. "It's best when swiftly devoured." Overall, the chicken spot satisfied, leaving Hector "craving some of Proposition Chicken's choice items, often in the middle of the night." [Examiner]

Luke Tsai visited "cozy Italian spot" Desco, where lunchtime offers "an escape to a bustling, bona-fide Italian cafe." Short of a traditional three-hour mid-day meal, Desco offers a "hearty" plate of pasta "cranked out quickly enough that anyone working near downtown Oakland can enjoy a civilized meal and still get back to the office with time to spare." While schiacciata pizza wasn't perfect, casonsei and fresh pappardelle were "standouts," and the penne arrabbiata was "a better-than-average rendition of the classic comfort dish." Slightly uneven dishes and a raucous atmosphere characterize Desco's evening hours, but "there's hardly a more charming space in downtown Oakland." "At mid-day, it's a great place to grab a seat by the window and people-watch. In the evening...the atmosphere turns positively romantic." [EBX]

Wayfare Tavern

558 Sacramento Street, , CA 94111 (415) 772-9060 Visit Website

DESCO

499 9th Street, , CA 94607 (510) 663-9000 Visit Website

Verbena

2323 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109 415-441-2323

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