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Bauer Iffy on Epic Roasthouse; Kauffman Loves Jardinière

Bauer took in the views at Epic Roasthouse in this week's review, saying "it's important to offer good food" at the Embarcadero restaurant, "but the Bay Bridge dominates." Rapturous views outshine the "over-the-top" interior and boost Epic's dining experience, though when it comes to the steaks, "you'll pay dearly, but the results are nearly flawless." Bone-in ribeye was Bauer's favorite, alongside chopped spinach with caraway-flavored chantilly cream or "light and refreshing" somen noodle salad: less successful were the "surprisingly anemic" sauerkraut, over-truffled bone marrow and crab gratin and "dry and slightly overcooked" halibut. "Repetitive" desserts and service that "borders on oversolicitous" made Bauer ponder how a kitchen and wait staff can overachieve "when they know the location can carry the evening." 2.5 stars. [Chron]

Jonathan Kauffman paid homage to Traci Des Jardins' 17-year-old Jardinière, a standby where the staff is neither "squatting on its laurels" nor "taking a smoke break." "Quietly mirroring" the dining zeitgeist, "reduction sauces and meat-starch-veg mains have slipped out the door," and "precise, elegant cooking" is here to stay. Here, the dining room "is aging as well as its patrons," and the kitchen's belief in the "redeeming power of opulence" means tossed crab meat with slim tajarin pasta, cream and shaved yuzu zest, lamb four ways with cubes of fried chickpea, and Brussels sprouts roasted in goose fat that are "as good as you might imagine." [Tasting Table]

Alex Hochman ventured to the newly reenergized Pissed Off Pete's, where chefs Noah Bustos and Nathaniel Loya have landed after German spot Schimdt's. Here, "the level of prep and execution being put into certain dishes is astonishing," especially given the "reasonable prices" and "no-frills surroundings." From handmade bigoli blanketed with cinnamon-scented meat sauce to a "juicy" pork chop with potato salad and slivers of cinnamon apple to a "downright rousing" butternut squash and maple-braised pork butt pizza, the food here impressed. Hochman would "order all of the cutely titled sandwiches that I tried again in a heartbeat," from the roast beef Hasselhoff to the fried chicken Excelsior. Bustos and Loya are on the upswing, says Hochman. "For locals in the Excelsior, let's hope they stick around for a while." [Examiner]

Meanwhile, Luke Tsai checked out comeback kid Southern Cafe, which rose from the dead a year ago after becoming an Oakland soul-food favorite. "I can say with confidence that the restaurant is back with a vengeance," says Tsia, "serving the kind of old-school soul food that'll clog your arteries and inspire sweet hosannas." A "lavish" all-you-can-eat buffet on Sundays is your best bet for taking in the "nicely seasoned, craggy crust and succulent, juicy" fried chicken and the cornmeal-crusted fried catfish that Tsai called "nothing short of miraculous." The Clay sisters "are skilled at extracting flavor from the humblest ingredient" — whether it's "smoky, well-spiced red beans," "chowder-y corn sautée" and Tsai's pick, the boiled cabbage. For diners ordering a la carte, service can be slow, and Tsai advices you place your order to go or come during an off-peak hour. "Or, to play it safe, you might just stick to the Sunday buffet." [EBX]


300 Grove Street, , CA 94102 (415) 861-5555 Visit Website

Epic Roasthouse

369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco CA