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Bauer Big on Agricole's New Chef; Roth Torn at Kin Khao

[Photo: Jennifer Yin]

Bauer revisited cocktail trailblazer Bar Agricole, which he had called "an expensive and not wholly satisfying evening out" in his July 2013 update review. The disappointment followed the departure of former chef Brandon Jew, but with the addition of new chef Melissa Reitz, the kitchen has been revitalized. There's now a "homier feel" to the menu, and from the "bright and creamy" Little Gem salad to the "thoughtfully accented" short ribs to the "memorable" roast leg of pork, Reitz's dishes are "as balanced as the cocktails." What's more, "prices have come down" and the restaurant has done away with its service charge, making it a more affordable experience. All in all, Bar Agricole's "exceptional" team was evident in the dining room, the "attentive" service and, "most important," in Reitz's food. Three stars. [Chron]

Roth paid a visit to new Thai hot spot Kin Khao, the "upscale, often exciting new Thai restaurant" by Pim Techamuanvivit. Roth found the location (a Union Square hotel) "an odd choice," saying that "spicy, obscure, high-end Thai food" seems "more suited to the Mission than the corner of Mason and Ellis." She found the menu full of mixed blessings, too. "For every dish at Kin Khao that soared, there was another that never got off the ground." "Remarkable" dry-fried pork riblets, "interesting" yum yai salad and creative cocktails impressed, but $17 crab noodles were "disappointing" and charred octopus was "overcooked and rubbery." All in al, the "variable" food and "studiously casual vibe" made Kin Khao's flaws "that much more apparent." "When you try something new, you run the risk of losing yourself in the process." [SF Weekly]

Jonathan Kauffman focused on one feature of new North Beach spot The Square: the "complimentary warm Parker House roll" that's served to diners at the onset of their meal. It comes "warm as a newly laid egg" and "will tear apart as if it were cotton candy," enduring the "thick swipe" of "tangy" Straus yogurt butter you'll smear over its surface. "The opening gambit ... may be the warmest welcome in town." [Tasting Table]

Molly Gore of the Examiner also reviewed Kin Khao this week, offering a counterpoint to Roth's critique. Gore found the restaurant "very easy to love," from the "rollicking, punchy" gaeng som sour curry to the "lovely, oozy" duck egg salad. The crab noodles are "less exciting," though a "familiar, sinister richness" "keeps your fork twirling into it like a broken record." "Reliably delightful" cocktails impressed, and the food was "bound up in polished technique and fancy whims." Kin Khao "might be the most authentic expression of Thai you'll find around." [Examiner]

In the East Bay, Luke Tsai visited Cholita Linda's new Temescal brick-and-mortar, where he found a "festive" atmosphere that complements Vanessa Chavez's "simple, soulful food"—"the real cause for celebration." The Baja-style fish taco is "king for a reason," "a veritable beacon of light" whose genius is "how well the components complement each other." Tofu and carne asada tacos also did the job, though chicken and carnitas "were merely pretty good." The menu only has a handful of other dishes for now, but Peruvian rotisserie chicken is on the way. To add to the excitement, Chavez is nine months pregnant. Still, "anyone would agree that a new child and a new restaurant, all in one year, is something worth celebrating ... with plenty of fish tacos." [EBX]

Kin Khao

55 Cyril Magnin Street, , CA 94102 (415) 362-7456 Visit Website

Bar Agricole

1540 Mission Street, , CA 94103 (415) 341-0101 Visit Website

The Square

1850 K Street Northwest, , DC 20006 Visit Website