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Bauer Finds a New Generation of Talent at Huxley; Roth Hits The Progress

Plus obscure Asian food from Oakland to the Inner Richmond.

The Progress
The Progress
Patricia Chang

In San Francisco's changing restaurant landscape, Bauer and his colleagues are fearing the demise of small restaurants with the power to change the neighborhood around them. Happily, Huxley has taken the charge in the gritty Tenderloin. The kitchen is led by Sara Hauman (Bar Agricole), while the front of the house is helmed by Kris Esqueda (Saison, Sons & Daughters). Bauer found that most of the food "is worth a trip," boasting a "studied maturity" in a place with a "youthful vibe." The small menu changes often, featuring food with a "natural, organic feel." A rustic preparation of half a rabbit smothered in a mustard sauce with mushrooms was "excellent"— though he felt the $42 price tag was justified, Bauer wonders "how it will play with the neighborhood crowd." A few missteps included an overseasoned farro porridge and a short rib pot pie that was "otherwise well-prepared." Service is "casual, but efficient" and exemplifies the fine-dining credentials of the staff. Ultimately, Bauer found a restaurant that may well "launch a neighborhood revival" and "a new generation of talent." Three stars. [Chron]

Bauer's update this week focused on Hillside Supper Club, a pop-up that successfully transitioned into a fully functioning restaurant. In the year since his first review of the restaurant, Bauer found that the kitchen led by chef-owners Tony Ferrari and Jonathan Sutton has "found more consistency" and the service "more professional." The 49-seat space "feels like a neighborhood gathering place," with dishes ranging from "exceptional pot pies" to a duck liver mousse, served in a canning jar. The only element that seemed "out of character" was the obscure and pricey wine list. Overall, Hillside "satisfies more than the basic need to eat." 2.5 stars. [Chron]

This week Anna Roth visited The Progress, the newly opened, "more mature sibling" of State Bird Provisions. There, she found a "more consistent dining experience," though "that's not to say the menu and format avoid taking risks." The meal is a family-style, six-course meal, with each course collectively chosen by the table. Chef-owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Kransinki "have a gift for combining ingredients and techniques in ways that you'd never imagine," resulting in dishes like "pig fries", which are deep-fried pig ears and belly, tossed with romanesco, fish sauce, herbs and lime juice. The menu is overwhelmingly successful, with Roth admitting "there weren't any duds, just things that weren't as good as the others." The restaurant's biggest competition, as it turns out, is its own sibling. [SF Weekly]

In the East Bay, Luke Tsai went deep into residential territory to review the Grocery Cafe, a Burmese restaurant in Eastlake. It feels more like a "church basement potluck" than a restaurant, almost allowing it to go undiscovered if not for food that is "so damn good." Co-owner William Lue and cook Koot Aung offer "homey flavors and preparations," like their authentic version of the famous tea leaf salad, served without lettuce to dilute the flavors. Excellent samusas, noodle dishes and chowdery noodle soups are all part of the "straight-up delicious" menu. Lue also plans to ramp up the "grocery" part of the cafe, currently offering some prepared items with plans to sell obscure Southeast Asian vegetables grown for him on a farm in Fresno. Tsai says "you can add that to the list of things no other restaurant in Oakland is doing." [EBX]

Out on Clement Street, Cynthia Salaysay encountered some "spicy happy feelings" on her visit to Sichuan restaurant Spicy Legend. The appeal is in the "delicate touches and arcane dishes," like frog legs and intestines. The less adventurous can also find plenty of "recognizable fare," such as a "sincere, genuine" wonton soup. "Portions are massive, noodles are supple, vegetables plentiful and spice is spicy," all adding up to a place where one can pursue their own happiness. [SF Examiner]

Hillside Supper Club

300 Precita Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110 415 857 1461 Visit Website

Grocery Cafe

90 Franklin Street, , CA 94607 (925) 566-4877 Visit Website

Spicy Legend

2109 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121 (415) 386-8818

The Progress

1525 Fillmore Street, , CA 94115 (415) 673-1294 Visit Website

Huxley

846 Geary Street, , CA 94109 (415) 800-8223 Visit Website

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