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Bauer Goes Trendspotting At Parlour, Kane Breaks The Seal On Spice Jar

Also: an update from Epic Steak's recent re-branding.

Ingos Images/Parlour on Facebook

Michael Bauer doubled down on headline puns this week: first stopping by Oakland's Parlour, the new pizza-and-a-cocktail place from Oakland's Bar 355 crew and Jason Tuley, formerly of Gitane and TBD. Although it shares the common concrete-floored, subway-tiled, wood-fired aesthetic, Bauer finds Tuley's work to be  "a slice above" the competition with "an approachable menu" that goes beyond just seasonal pies (that he raves about). There's "a good version of wood-roasted octopus" with house-made chorizo, celery leaves and purslane, a testa with sea urchin aioli that "combines two darling-of-the-moment ingredients," and an interesting sounding salad made from beets smashed into a red pancake. (It is probably worth noting here that Bauer's reviews have often been blamed for a rash of beet salads on local menus.) Veggies aside, Bauer says the dry-aged ribeye for two could probably feed four, and the only thing that really gives him pause is the the $32 roast chicken, "one of the most expensive roast chickens I've seen." Behind all the trendy elements though, Bauer likes the soul of the place (and also the view of Oakland's Paramount Theater): Two and a half stars.

For his next pun, Bauer revisited Epic Steakhouse which has been newly re-branded as just Epic Steak now that Chef Parke Ulrich has started cooking the titular meat slabs over mesquite wood in an open-fire grill. In cuts like the 20-ounce bone-in New York steak, Bauer says the result is "triple the flavor I've found in other steaks" with a "blackened, salty sear" and a balanced smokiness. The steak itself comes with the option of four different steak sauces, although Mr. B thinks it "seemed criminal to embellish the meat in any way." In old-school steakhouse style sides are separate and cost extra, but apparently worth the $7. Likewise, the salads and desserts are a choose-your-own-adventure thing, so if you get a bad combination it's probably your own fault. Where Epic Steak really stands out though, is Ulrich's work with seafood that he has carried over from Waterbar next door. Highlights include an "excellent" crab cocktail and the local salmon that gets the same grill treatment as the steaks before being finished with squash blossoms and cherry tomatoes. Two and a half stars.

Over at the Weekly, Pete Kane breaks the seal on pan-Asian noodle spot the Spice Jar, in the former home of Local's Corner in the Mission. Noodles are everywhere: from the tonkotsu-shoyu ramen with braised spare ribs, the coconut samal Zen noodle soup with calamari, mussels and shrimp or the crispy calamari salad over a bowl of vermicelli. But it's the combination with "foodstuffs from elsewhere in the world" that show a cleverness in the kitchen like albacore carpaccio or garlic fries dusted with aonori flakes. All told, Spice Jar is a cheap date that Kane says ought to soothe anyone still smarting from the previous tenant's controversy.