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Sens Pines For Yesteryear at Mourad, Bauer On Cruise Control

Also: a vacation to Mexico City.

Mourad's interior.
Mourad's interior.
Patricia Chang

At the Chronicle, Michael Bauer is still recovering from the Top 100, so he's taken the week off to blog his favorite dishes. Next week he'll be out on "a family cruise to Alaska," which is probably more than we needed to know about Bauer's vacation schedule, but there it is.

With Bauer in chillax mode, San Francisco Magazine food critic Josh Sens reviewed the city's latest high-profile opening at Mourad, making much ado about the decor and Chef Mourad Lahlou's ascension from student of economics to Michelin-starred chef. Sens seems lost in the space on New Montgomery street in SoMA, but the food seems to help him find his way a little bit and "it's difficult to quarrel with the kitchen’s execution" of both the prix-fixe and à la carte menues. "Leggy asparagus" in "a fluffy truffled omelet" is "the very picture of California cool" with hints of North Africa. A Moroccan take on surf-and-turf with snapper, octopus and merguez sausage proves that Lahlou knows how to treat those tentacles "exactly right" and his beesteya is "presented more beautifully here than ever before." Where Sens really feels most cozy is buried deep in the family share plates like the chicken for two covered in chili-fired harissa and surrounded in "downy-light couscous, and roasted potatoes with buttermilk foam." Pastry chef Melissa Chou is likewise turning out "smart, inventive sweets," including one "showstopper" that looks like "an edible Chihuly." 2.5 stars.

For SF Weekly, recently arrived critic Pete Kane set out on vacation as well, braving food poisoning and gorging to excess in Mexico City. While in the D.F., Kane checked out Gabriela Cámara's Contramar, ostensibly because Cámara will be opening a new restaurant Cala in Hayes Valley later this summer, but maybe also because that is one way to expense a meal while you're on vacation. Anyhow, Contramar had the "best bread" of anywhere he ate all week as well as "sublime" octopus and an "outstanding" plate of shrimp and octopus tacos. Aside from that, however, the restaurant was "stuffy" and "felt like Pac Heights in spite of its location in hip, cosmopolitan Condesa." Anyway, Cala will probably be a whole different beast, given that it'll be in a whole different country.


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