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Bauer Charmed by Evangeline, Kane Enjoyed the Meaty Menu at Dirty Water

Meanwhile, Bauer thought Elite Café did not live up to its potential.

Dirty Water
Dirty Water
Patricia Chang

For last week's update, critic Michael Bauer revisited Elite Café, the New Orleans-style cafe on Fillmore Street. There Bauer saw talent, along with unfulfilled potential. New chef James London hit the first dish out of the park, with a composition of sugar snap peas accompanied by truffled goat cheese Green Goddess dressing. Unfortunately, the following dishes left him disappointed, including "bland and boring" deviled eggs, "one-dimensional" etouffee with duck confit that was served cold and a grilled angel food cake that "looked better than it tasted." Bauer did enjoy the jazz, and cocktails though. Two Stars. [Chron]

Next on the agenda was a jaunt up to Evangeline, in Calistoga. There Bauer found much to love about the new spot owned by the Solage Resort and overseen by chef Brandon Sharp (also of Solbar). The chef, who's spent plenty of quality time in the South (including John Besh's Restaurant August), highlights dishes like a cornmeal-crusted soft shell crab po'boy and crawfish etouffee with skill. Bauer lauded Sharp's "magic touch with fried foods," from fried pickles to local anchovies. He was particularly stunned by Sharp's shrimp cocktail, composed of a bowl "mounded with crushed ice that glistens like diamonds when spotlighted by the setting sun," with shrimp lined up straight, in a row. Seafood seems to be a strong suit, as Bauer found almost every dish he tried to be well-executed, from smoked salmon atop a crisp potato cake to an oyster stew that is "the purest rendition [he has] had since Hog Island Oysters' version." A few missteps included a steak frites that was low on flavor and a dry roast chicken. However, every visit brought better service and food, creating a "joie de vivre of its own that would make New Orleans proud." 2.5 Stars. [Chron]

Meanwhile, Peter Lawrence Kane made his way over to Dirty Water, the newly opened anchor tenant in the bottom of Market Square (aka the Twitter building). There he participated in what can only be called a "meat feast," which Kane assigns under the category of "haute paleo." Chef Jared Gallagher (Chez TJ) offers up a menu of "meat, meat, meat," from the charcuterie platter to the deer tartare. The tartare turned out to be one of the best dishes on the menu, competing with a roasted squab with smoked eggplant, cherries and fava beans for the title. Although he felt the Spanish octopus was only "mediocre," due to competitively flavored sauces, the menu has much to offer. Kane ultimately experienced a "fantastic meat parade," at what is now "officially a destination" in mid-Market. [SF Weekly]