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Bauer Torn at Press; Roth Bids Farewell to Incanto

[Photo: Press/Facebook]

Bauer continued his wine country roll with an update review of St. Helena's Press, where he found "one of the most striking restaurants in the Napa Valley." When the restaurant opened nine years ago, it was "as momentous" as its impressive wine list, but now dinner "was missing that extra flair that would make it stand apart." Chopped salad "felt a little clunky," wild-caught jumbo shrimp were "plump and sweet" but "not expertly peeled," and on dish after dish Bauer "wanted a little more." Though when it comes to the interior, "few restaurants have a sense of place and so effortlessly blend rustic and refined elements," a doggie bag that arrived with dessert caused raised eyebrows. "Overall, service was good - and the wine service was excellent - but like the food it lacked that seemingly effortless finish and polish I have come to expect at Press." 2.5 stars. [Chron]

Though Incanto is no more, Anna Roth got one last meal in at Chris Cosentino's Noe Valley restaurant, the shuttering of which "marks the end of an era in San Francisco food." Nose-to-tail butchery,
complimentary filtered water, an all-Italian wine list and medical benefits for employees were all things that Incanto did first, but "cities and tastes change, and it was time to move on," in this case to Porcellino, Cosentino's more casual replacement. Roth and friends tucked in to signature flavors like "fatty and intense" seared calf brains, beef heart tartare and sea urchin butter, but "somewhat tellingly, the best things we ate were the most ordinary," like the famous pork ragu, "as soft and meaty as you could want." Though "the food was good" and "the service solicitous," "something about the restaurant felt dowdy, out of date." "It's easy to get nostalgic about a place that's made such a mark on S.F.'s dining landscape," Roth mused. "But even worse would be if Incanto kept on going beyond the interest of its owners, its neighborhood, or the food industry at large." R.I.P. Incanto. [SF Weekly]

Jonathan Kauffman paid a visit to Jeff Mason's Pal's Take Away, which has recently ventured into "treacherous waters ... where the burger geeks swim." Mason now has a weekday permanent pop-up with a secret burger ingredient that "gives the meat a double-dose of beefiness" so that it "tastes more like aged steak," and he's also got a special of the day that "far exceeded its description": miso mayonnaise, "toasty and sweet" long-fried shallots and shredded Pecorino Romano cheese made Kauffman a believer. "We aren't burger geeks, but we were sold." [Tasting Table]

Meanwhile, Cynthia Salaysay checked out SOMA's Bergerac, which has successfully hooked in to the city's "well-established vibe of epicurean bohemia." An "homage to a stylish past," the gastropub's designer were going for a "drugged-out French chateau" feel, and the menu is "pitched perfectly to the vibe of the place," with "party-friendly, recognizable" dishes "filled with panache and personality." "Comforting kitsch" shone through with pigs in blankets, deviled eggs and grasshopper cocktails, all made with "solid ingredients, know-how and tongue well in cheek." An "unpredictable "anything goes" vibe" made the place feel fresh, but it always remained "flamboyant, friendly and very San Francisco." [Examiner]

Luke Tsai stopped in at Tamales La Oaxaqueña, a tamale shop in West Oakland that specializes in Oaxacan-style banana-leaf tamales. There, he found "moister and more tightly packed" tamales than their corn-husk versions, with an interior that had taken on "the aromatic quality of the wrapper — reminiscent of wet tea leaves or the jungle." But "the best reason to make a special trip to this little tamaleria" is for Oaxaca's other famous specialty: mole that that boasts "fresh, fluffy, and fragrant" masa and "mild, lingering heat." The restaurant is "bare-bones," but that's part of its charms, and "whatever amenities Tamales La Oaxaqueña might be missing," the tamales and the moles "make this a family business that's worth supporting." [EBX]

Bergerac

316 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 255-9440 Visit Website

Incanto

1550 Church Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

Press

587 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena CA

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