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Roth Finds Crystal Jade Boring and Overpriced; Sens Unimpressed by Game

Plus: Bauer finds a fun surprise in Sonoma, and Gitane gets its act back together.

Patricia Chang

Bauer's nostalgia train takes a tour of Spain and France during his update review of Gitane. Since it opened in 2008, the restaurant has experienced severe highs and lows, bouncing between stars every year as it endured a litany of chef shuffles. Bauer found that new chef Jason Tuley has "smoothed out the ride," offering fewer highs, but none of the lows, of past dining experiences. Appetizers, like the oven-roasted octopus, were more exciting than the entrees, which included "ubiquitous" short ribs atop polenta. Overall, the service has improved over the years and Bauer deems it a solid and pleasant, if not exciting, jaunt. 2.5 stars. [Chron]

"Are we still in Sonoma?" asked Bauer upon entering Oso, the new restaurant from chef David Bush that brings sophisticated decor and food with "a welcome big-city feel" to the quiet town. Bush "has a clear vision of who he is and what he wants," producing a menu of generously portioned small plates that are the "perfect antidote" to a day of wine tasting. He's also a historian, with a recently acquired degree in history from Sonoma State University and an understanding of the past that's evident in his cuisine. Throw in professional service and staff "available to offer [wine] recommendations" to the unversed masses, and it's a love affair. Three stars. [Chron]

Back in the big city, Josh Sens was less enamored of Game, the new project from Sachin Chopra and Shoshana Wolff (also behind Michelin-starred restaurant All Spice, in San Mateo). Game occupies the former Masa's space, where chef Zack Freitas offers a menu "built in part on proteins that a lot of people like to stalk and shoot." Yet Freitas does not offer "stunt food," instead "wander[ing] thoughtfully into the wild." Wild boar, elk, duck and goat all make appearances, including an elk burger that's "one part high-end diner, one part hunting lodge." While most of the proteins aren't actually killed in the woods, Sens' main issue isn't that it's "not really game," but that it's "not really good." The restaurant "seems at odds with its own identity," retaining the stuffy formality of Masa's with "uptight" service and a "stiffness" exacerbated by staggered pacing. Two stars. [SF Mag]

Anna Roth found more disappointment in expensive places, with a disappointing trip to the hotly anticipated Crystal Jade Jiang Nan. The restaurant is huge (20,000 square feet), expensive ($14 million to build), and sadly, "unremarkable in almost every way except for its astronomical prices." Though Roth clarifies that "remarkable is not the same as bad," she found both the food and space "reserved and corporate." Despite the dramatic view of the Bay Bridge, Crystal Jade "commits the cardinal sin of being boring, serving expensive food without bringing anything new to the table." [SF Weekly]

And once again, Brenda's Meat & Three emerges as a crowd-pleaser. Alex Hochman reveled in meats and sides that rivaled even the authentic offerings of a Nashville meat-and-three, food that appears "downright exotic in this town." He found, thankfully, that the kitchen "has done little to put a healthy, local spin on anything," serving food that's both decadent and messy. Though the fried chicken was "average," the meatloaf, bologna sandwich and almost everything else pleased him. He and his companion left "gut-bombed and all the better for it." [Examiner]

Game Restaurant

2295 Lexington Road, , KY 40206 (502) 618-1712 Visit Website

Oso Sonoma

9 East Napa Street, , CA 95476 (707) 931-6926 Visit Website

Crystal Jade

4 Embarcadero Ctr, San Francisco, CA (415) 399-1400 Visit Website

Brenda's Meat & Three

919 Divisadero Street, , CA 94115 (415) 926-8657 Visit Website


6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108 415 788 6686