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The Critics Ate All Over East Bay This Week

Michael Bauer and Luke Tsai at The Advocate, Peter Kane at Parlor and Anna Roth at FuseBox.

The Advocate
The Advocate
Patricia Chang

Michael Bauer crossed the Bay two weeks in a row now (!) to head to The Advocate in Berkeley, which is nice and quiet for his tastes. The “well-executed American menu” from chef John Griffiths apparently evokes many landscapes: the squash blossom flatbread “looks like a garden planted on the moon,” the heirloom tomato salad “looks like a psychedelic mountain range.” Is someone excited for The Martian to hit theaters? Bauer is generally pleased with the food — “most of the time the kitchen pulls through” — though “soggy” chickpea fries and “waxy” fried potatoes on one visit disappointed him. Favorites included squid a la plancha and roasted cauliflower. Service and cocktails were also on point, all leading to the Bauer standard: 2 ½ stars. [The Chron]

Anna Roth’s EatUp column featured FuseBox in West Oakland this week, a crazy Korean fusion spot that can be described by the words “labor of love.” According to Roth, “you’ll want at least one order of the locally famous Korean fried chicken wings,” as well as the sliced pig ears and a bap set. In fact, “it’s best to order a bunch and let them wash over you.” Add the trio of kimchis, bacon-wrapped enoki mushroom skewers, miso-glazed eggplant skewers, custardy tofu, salmon collars and hamachi crudio, and you’ve got yourself quite the feast. [The Chron]

Peter Kane reviewed Parlour in Oakland, which fulfills the mantra “under-promise and over-deliver.” The “run-of-the-mill hipster endeavor” had several dishes that “stood out as among the best things I've eaten all year.” That includes the “impeccable” mousse-like kabocha squash soup, creamy-grain polenta and wood-oven octopus. Skip the “bland” burrata and beet tart. Kane swooned over the St. Chile drink, calling it “spectacular, light and perfectly balanced.” It would all be almost perfect, except that “every rose has its thorn, and Parlour's noise level is, well, parlous.” In the end, though, it was still “one of the best dinners” Kane has had this year.

Well here’s a good indicator of how this review from Luke Tsai at The Advocate will go: “The Advocate serves straightforward California cuisine and does it very, very well — better, in fact, than just about any other restaurant I've visited in the East Bay this year,” he wrote. He enjoyed the flatbreads, and greatly disagreed with Bauer on those chickpea fries, writing they were “perhaps the best rendition of this dish” he’s ever had. He also loved the “luxurious” chicken liver toast and “tender” grilled squid. He did agree with Bauer that the entrees were “less exciting than the smaller plates.” All in all he called The Advocate an “exceedingly pleasant place to spend an evening — all the more so because, just two months after opening, the kitchen appears to be hitting on all cylinders.”