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Bauer Sizes Up Slow Club; Roth Has Hope For Red Dog

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[Photo: Slow Club/Facebook]

The interior of Slow Club "felt shockingly austere" when the restaurant opened 23 years ago, but "it hit the right notes with the early tech set." It's "still going strong" today, and Bauer "so wanted to love the food" when he stopped by for a review. Appetizers like the "perennial go-to" fries and "a good Caesar" heartened Bauer, but "the experience began to fall apart" with overly sweet mussels, an overwrought pork loin and a "misguided combination" of sirloin over salad. Though Bauer's server was "the epitome of cool under pressure," the restaurant seems "woefully understaffed" and the noise level, a perennial Bauer complaint, "rose to almost painful peaks." Desserts like the "exceptional" peach upside-down cake partially redeemed the night, and Bauer says "it's worth a visit for some of the dishes that have remained on the menu through the years," noting that "with a little refinement and restraint, the food could be so much more." Two stars. [Chron]

Anna Roth checked in on Red Dog, which left her contemplating the lost art of the well-balanced entree in a world overtaken by small plates. At Red Dog, Lauren Kiino "understands a thing or two about the art of the entree, a well-composed plate with a protein, a starch, and a vegetable wedded together with sauce," as with dinners like the "beefy" short rib and "nicely cooked" petrale sole. Lunchtime sees the "much-beloved, anchovy butter-laced" warm egg salad sandwich and a "dreamy" little gem lettuce, bacon, and green bean salad, but "things got a little fuzzier as you strayed from the main courses," with "utterly forgettable" chicken wings and an all-wrong panna cotta as the prime offenders. But though "too-bright lights create a cold atmosphere" at dinner and noise levels can get high, "lights can be dimmed, noise can be dampened, and the dinner crowds will eventually come." [SF Weekly]

Mam ruoc, or fermented shrimp paste, underlines what sets Vietnamese spot Bun Mam Soc Trang apart from the rest, according to Luke Tsai's recent review. "Mud-colored and airily mousse-like, the sauce has a salty pungency that commands your attention," but tonier spots won't serve the stuff "for fear that Westerners will find it too stinky." Not so with Tsai, who "embraces the funk," stating "if there's a better Vietnamese restaurant in the East Bay, I haven't found it yet." The tiny, family-run breakfast and lunch spot feels "like a still-undiscovered secret ... despite the fact that on weekends the line for a table often stretches out the door," and "the soupy noodle dishes, in particular, are knockouts," with bun mam so good Tsai "found it difficult to want to order anything else." "This is home-style food prepared the way that a skilled Vietnamese home cook would make it." [EBX]

· All Week in Reviews posts [~ ESF ~]

Red Dog

303 2nd Street Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107

Slow Club

2501 Mariposa St., San Francisco CA

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