Bauer revisited Traci Des Jardins' flagship restaurant Jardinière in his newest update review, and observed that "it feels as if Jardinière has again found its footing" since his previous visits. "The quality has been up and down," but changes in management and on the menu have boosted the experience. The "handsome character of the interior" remains, service "has been elevated to past standards," and classic menu items have been replaced with "equally well-crafted dishes," like a duck entree that Bauer called "one of the best preparations I can remember."
In his January, 2012 review, Bauer faulted the restaurant for "stepping over the price/value line" and pondered the meaning of his own star-rating system, saying stars should always be looked at in the context of price. But though a "renewed sense of value" and lower prices were noted in his update, his star ratings remained largely the same, with three stars for food, $$$$ for price, and three stars overall. [Chron]
Meanwhile, Wendy Hector had a Basque-inspired experience at Bask, where she found dishes "overflowing with authentic rusticity and focused flavor." Here, squid cooked in its own ink "contained an ocean of concentrated flavor," the cod fritter "held a deep well of flavor within its golden-fried exterior" and the burnt bottom of the Paella Royale was Hector's favorite bite of the evening. Service is "enthusiastic and eager to please," food is "solidly traditional, but vibrant rather than stodgy," and the "compact and functional" wine list "reinforces the casual, easygoing vibe." [Examiner]
Luke Tsai took a different tack in Oakland, arriving at Cal-Moroccan spot Doukkala to find a mixed bag: here, "most of the food is quite good," but "the best dishes are more about cooking technique" coming from French chef Eric Lanvert. Duck tagine ("soupy," "hearty") and pastilla ("not savory enough to stand up to multiple sweet components") were modern interpretations of classics, and the escargot "is a must-order dish." Service ranged from "smooth and attentive" to "painfully slow," and "on the whole it feels like Doukkala still isn't quite sure what kind of restaurant it wants to be." There's room to grow: "what the restaurant has the potential to be — a great low-key date-night spot — is classic." [EBX]