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Week in Reviews: Bauer Bows Down to Lord Stanley; Kane Hops on the Trestle Train

Plus, Bauer revisits Bluestem Brasserie, Anna Roth spends less than $10 at Tacorgasmico and Luke Tsai finds himself in a budding Sichuan war.

Let the Lord Stanley be with Bauer, who this week praised the restaurant's husband-wife chef team Carrie and Rupert Blease (Commonwealth and Central Kitchen, respectively). "The food has a clean, vibrant underpinning that shows up in dish after dish," Bauer said, citing the "refined" lamb shoulder and "pristine" marinated tomatoes on toasted bread on the a la carte menu. Someone needs to talk to Bauer about high expectations, though, because they led to his "disappointing" tasting menu and wine pairing experience, which had more misses than hits. Ultimately, though, Bauer has faith in the Bleases to "settle in" and give their food an "added dimension." 2.5 stars. [Chron]

In Bauer’s eyes, Bluestem Brasserie has redeemed itself. The food has gone up a full star since its last review, thanks to new man in the kitchen Jeff Banker (Baker & Banker), who according to Bauer is serving a "populist menu that can satisfy tourists and locals." This includes a "vibrant" red-beet cured salmon tartare, "interesting" seared octopus and rotating plats du jour, like fried chicken on Mondays and house-smoked beef brisket on Wednesdays, of which Bauer has "had better." He is decidedly unimpressed with the desserts, though, which "don’t hold up to the quality of the savory offerings." In the front of the house, "service, along with the food, has also improved" after Bluestem ditched its unwieldy iPad ordering. All in all, the changes lead to… 2.5 stars. [Chron]

This week Anna Roth and her skinny wallet stopped by Tacorgasmico in the Castro, where despite an abundance of local tacos, Roth said Tacorgasmico stands out of the crowd for its "supple house-made tortillas" and "marvel cochinita pibil," or slow-cooked pork tacos. Actually, "it's hard to go wrong" with anything you order, she said, at owner Eduardo Sandoval's taqueria modeled after his hometown in central Mexico, including the "generous" taquitos, tortas, tostadas and empanadas. Kinks include slow service, sometimes-stale tortilla chips and "inelegantly mixed" drinks. No matter, Roth said, "as long as those tacos include the slow-cooked pork, I'll brave a boozy scene — and that corny name — any day of the week."  [Chron]

Spoiler alert: "Trestle is a wow," according to Peter Kane. Add him to the list of critics (ahem, Bauer) in love with the place for its $35 three-course menu from owner Ryan Cole (Stones Throw) and chefs Jason Halverson and Ryan Cerizo. An heirloom tomato salad appetizer "tasted like a distillation of high summer." Sweet corn soup "was a study in creaminess." Garganelli bolognese was a "real winner." Pan-roasted day boat scallops were "delicious." And on it goes. Kane's singular complaint was the high chance of dish repeats in multiple visits. "In my case, only the salad course was different," he said. Still, it wasn't enough to sway him from falling hard for Trestle. [SF Weekly]

Lastly, Luke Tsai refereed a Sichuan showdown in North Berkeley. King Tsin has been around since 1969, but has come under new ownership recently. The new regime, under co-owners Albert Lu and Chi Yiu Ho (China Village), chef Jim Yang (China Village) and manager Bobby Ng (China Village) has caused the restaurant to be "entered into the conversation about where diners can find some of the best Chinese food in the East Bay." If you're noticing a common thread, you're not wrong — most of the key players have joined from China Village, which is just down the street, and the menu is about "70 percent the same." Awkward. Though he didn't tally a direct dish-by-dish comparison, Tsai seemed to have a preference for King Tsin's food (he specifically named the cumin lamb, fish soup, braised pork shoulder and umami frog as some standouts) and ambience ("a less crowded and hectic dining experience than what you'll typically find at China Village"). In the end, he can't choose between the two, and he's just glad they're both there. [East Bay Express]

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