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Bauer Revisits Comstock; Roth Files a Rave For Alta CA

Inside Comstock. [Photo: Comstock/Facebook]

Bauer revisited North Beach hotspot Comstock Saloon for his update review this week, and found a space that "could be a stage set for a Barbary Coast-inspired movie," complete with beards, bowties and "some of the best classic cocktails around." A new remodel and the addition of chef Ronnie New have freshened up Comstock's offering, and Bauer sampled apps like the shrimp cocktail, crisp chicken livers and a Little Gem salad, which "New does a good job with." Roast chicken was a "great dish with the bourbon-based cocktails" and the vegetarian pot pie, "with a golden domed crust capping a steamy blend of mushrooms," impressed. Service was "a little disjointed," prompting a cocktail mix-up that was quickly remedied, but Bauer's dessert was no good: a "characterless bourbon pudding and a "dry, nearly frozen tres leches cake." "I should have drunk my dessert." 2.5 stars. [Chron]

Anna Roth posted a rare rave this week with her review of Daniel Patterson's newest, calling Alta CA a "beautiful example of a dressed-up bistro" that's "turning out some really good food." "Closer to Nopa and Zuni in its DNA" than to Patteron's Coi and Haven, this food is "comfortable and laid-back, but highly structured and sophisticated if you look closely." Roth fell in love with the mushroom porridge, calling it "all creamy and woodsy," "the sexiest dish on the menu." The burger is "an instant classic," with all the elements together creating "that delightful, finger-soaking slurry that all great burgers have." Bar bites like the memorable deviled eggs and "light but intensely beefy" tendon puffs made an impression, and though the soft-serve dessert failed to transcend the pleasures of ordinary ice cream, "this is not a major complaint." Cocktails are "on par with some of the better mixology programs in the city," and with a kitchen open 'til 1am, Alta "is destined to become a Civic Center institution for power lunches, romantic dinners, and late-night burgers at the bar." [SF Weekly]

Kauffman got heated up at Grand Hot Pot Lounge, the new Sichuan restaurant with the "flashy grandeur of a nightclub." Here, your neighbors may be seated far off, but "you can smell the hallucinatory-citrus aroma of Sichuan peppercorns surging from their hot pots." Order the
divided bowl with both the classic broth ("Chinese herbs and wolfberries bob on its surface, and the woodsy, gingery liquid flavors what you simmer") and spicy broth ("stoked with cinnamon, star anise, and Sichuan pepper and ignited by a quarter-inch slick of chile oil"). "The melee stops," says Kauffman, "only when the ingredients have been devoured." [Tasting Table]

Alex Hochman tested out Presidio Pizza Co., the slice spot that replaced longtime Divisadero fixture Frankie's Bohemian Cafe, and declared it "a godsend for those of us who just want a good slice." It's all about the crust here: "thin and crispy but substantial enough that nothing flops, that should have Gotham transplants breathing sighs of relief." A quick reheat of Hochman's slice sat well with the critic, who says that helps "the ingredients meld together a bit and nothing goes sliding this way and that." The "play of salty off of sweet really worked" for the Frankie's pizza (topped with sausage, rapini, garlic, onions and cherry peppers, and the Grandma slice, "a rage for the past decade or so in New York but unseen here," satisfied with a "slightly oily, crackly thin crust" and "generous slather of tomato sauce." Despite some service hiccups, Hochman is a fan of this East Coast-style spot. [Examiner]

Luke Tsai checked out Iyasare, Sho Kamio's new Japanese spot where "some of the dishes look almost too pretty to eat." But Tsai was wowed not just by presentation, but by flavor: "Iyasare serves some of the most delicious, memorable, and — yes — strikingly beautiful Japanese food I've eaten in the past year." A beet-cured trout dish "balanced the lushness of the fish with several dabs of tangy yuzu aioli and crispy strands of fried burdock root and potato, a bowl of sake-steamed littlenecks featured "incredibly fresh, tender clams," and the Ocean Umami was "utterly delicious" — Tsai's favorite of the night. He couldn't find fault in the service, setting or dishes he tried at Iyasare, which is "meant to be a place where you can slow down and savor a meal." But he does look forward to Kamio's upcoming kaiseki-style tasting menu, a "high-end, intensely seasonal multi-course feast." [EBX]

Alta CA

1420 Market Street, , CA 94102 (415) 590-2585 Visit Website


1830 Fourth Street, , CA 94710 (510) 845-8100 Visit Website

Comstock Saloon

155 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA