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Bauer Enjoyed the Adult Service and Romantic Atomosphere at Bix; Tsai Explored Chowhaus

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Plus, St. Helena's Harvest Table is good, but needs some time.

Bix
Bix
Bix

Last week's Update Review took place at Bix, a classic restaurant since 1988. Bauer compared the romantic atmosphere to a supper club, saying "it's a restaurant for all seasons and all reasons." Under chef Bruce Hill (Zero Zero, Fog City), newish chef de cuisine Emmanual Eng (most recently of Bartlett Hall) manages to combine "casual and more buttoned down genres," offering dishes like Bix's classic lobster spaghetti alongside his own version of General Tso's chicken and an "a la minute ceviche," with hamachi, avocado and toasted corn nuts. Bauer admired the "adult service," from servers in ties and vests and the hostess' ability to rectify his mysterious OpenTable screwup. Though he found that the desserts could use more attention, Bauer was ultimately smitten by Bix. 3 Stars [Chron]

Next, Bauer trundled up to St. Helena for a review of Charlie Palmer's Harvest Table, at the Harvest Inn. The restaurant is part of Palmer's latest hotel acquisition, nestled in the heart of  wine country. Chef Levi Mezick (Restaurant 1833) has brought his "refined sensibility"  with him from Monterey, including his renowned roast chicken with truffle butter, which Bauer is sure will never lose its luster. Most dishes include produce from the restaurant's culinary garden, like a tomato and watermelon salad that "truly speaks of summer in Napa Valley." However, Bauer found a few items that didn't jive with the menu, like shrimp and grits; some of the menu was "tailored and stylized" while others were more casual. For example, a grilled pork chop "looked messy and tasted the same." Service was mostly good, though he noticed some slip-ups at nearby tables. Ultimately Bauer found the restaurant a "pleasant addition" to the area, but "like the wine it celebrates, needs more time to show at its best." 2.5 Stars. [Chron]

Over in Oakland, Luke Tsai visited Chowhaus in "sleepy Montclair Village," a neighborhood not usually recognized as a dining destination. Chef Tracey Belock (Tribune Tavern, Disco Volante) and manager/husband Joe Schnell opened the restaurant to solve the issue of sparse dining options in the area. The spot is "homey," modeled after the German gasthaus (a homespun tavern/pub-style kind of place found in rural areas of Germany), offering "comfort food" that is often an updated version of classic dishes with a Bay Area sensibility. A mix of cultural adaptations like chilaquiles alongside British-style Scotch eggs and pork schnitzel works here, because "what is California cuisine if not a fusing together of disparate food traditions?" Ultimately, it's by far the best restaurant in the neighborhood. [EBX]

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