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Bauer Takes a Bite Out of KronnerBurger, Kane Rolls With Barrel Room

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Also: waffles and beer at Belga.

Kronnerburger's patio
Kronnerburger's patio
Patricia Chang

For last week's review, Michael Bauer donned his critic's hat and headed to Belga, the new Belgian concept from Adriano Paganini on Union Street in the Marina. Paganini and company did some minor redecorating to make the "ultimately disappointing" Cafe Des Amis space a little less formal and apparently that vibe is already a hit with the neighborhood, where "the noise can can be as deafening as being trapped outdoors on a tarmac when a 727 takes off." The food from chef Freedom Rains (Incanto, Boulevard, Flour + Water) is a "familiar" but "well executed" list of bistro fare like steak au poivre, beer-battered rock cod, charcuterie plates and crudité. A roast chicken "with a beautifully blistered mahogany skin" also gets the seal of approval as "another great deal" at $19. Naturally, there's beer: 60 of them on the beer list and more to be found in the carbonade beef stew. As for Belgium's other great export, the mighty waffle, Bauer found some inconsistencies — excellent on one visit and "dry as overcooked toast" on another. A more interesting way to end the meal, Bauer says, is a Belgian beer float, which is part of "a cool trend" he's just discovered. Three Stars. [Chron]

In more cool trend news, Bauer headed East to review KronnerBurger, the burger pop-up gone legit from Chris Kronner. "The interior walks the line between 'fast casual' and a more formal sit-down affair," Bauer writes, operating with counter service during the day and full-service at night. The flagship burger is a "messy but precisely constructed" affair that Kronner likes to do blood-red on a potato bun, but the real star is the combo of house-made pickles and white cheddar mayo. Although the patty melt came highly recommended, Bauer was disappointed with the sear and felt the burger "tasted like an ill-conceived version of steak tartare." As for the beverages, Bauer's a fan of the strong manhattan and a carbonated margarita so refreshing he couldn't even care that the patio tables were overlooking a parking lot. At night, however, Kronner's fine-dining training really shows through in dishes like a tomato salad with an oyster vinaigrette that "brought out a complex sweetness in the Sungold and Early Girl tomatoes" or a complex salad of beans, shrimp, calamari, octopus and uni with fried prawn heads. Two-and-a-half stars. [Chron]

Over at the Weekly, Pete Kane went looking for something trendy at the Barrel Room in the Financial District and came away pleasantly surprised. While there are "some of the trappings of a dare-I-say-hip restaurant" and the prices are a "tad" on the expensive side, the menu has some "worthwhile surprises." The D.F. — a Mexican spin on the Manhattan with ancho chili liqueur — is one winner, and the Paco Ramirez is a magarita that tastes like "an extract of every green ingredient in a burrito, minus the guac." The small plates don't sound very inspiring, but the steaks are a big hit with an Argentine tri-tip with chimichurri and a fattier rib-eye with marrow jam that was "almost pointless" because "all it did was gild the bovine lily." Overall a positive review, the only drawback is the menu will, according to Kane, drop the Latin American influence in favor of an Italian one sometime in the next few month. [SFWeekly]


4063 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611 (510) 410-7145