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Michael Bauer Was Disappointed by Zut; Peter Kane Urged Everyone to Go to Salsipeudes

Plus, Luke Tsai found a SoCal burrito at Oscar’s Grill in Alameda and Anna Roth found a San Francisco gem at Geneva Steak House.

Salsipuedes
Salsipuedes
Patricia Chang

Zut in Berkeley was the recipient of Michael Bauer’s review this week, which unfortunately did not make it into Bauer’s favor, despite him being a big fan of chef/owner Shotaro Kamio, who also runs Iyasara across the alley (“which happens to be one of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area,” Bauer wrote). Bauer always liked that Kamio “incorporated a California sensibility into his creative Asian cuisine, but that viewpoint didn’t translate as well in the brasserie context,” which is how Zut is billed. Some “promising” dishes were the whole roasted fish and herb- and salt-cured salmon, but the rest didn’t leave Bauer “in a hurry to return.” He found the the panzanella salad “unwieldy” and “overpowered,” the pork trotter terrine “lacking” flavor and the burger “dry.” 1 ½ stars. [The Chron]

Bauer was all over the East Bay this week, also revisiting Oakland’s Ramen Shop after an expansion to add 22 more seats to the original 49. Bauer considered the soup served there “the best ramen in the Bay Area,” and he still thought “the changes have made no difference” in the “slightly firm” noodles, “well crafted” broth and “pristine” ingredients. Beyond the ramen, Bauer was a fan of the “beautifully conceived and executed appetizers,” like the squash blossoms and pickle plate, and desserts like the “excellent” black sesame ice cream sandwich. 3 stars. [The Chron]

Peter Kane visited Oakland’s Salsipuedes which “is part of what seems to be the trend of the year: an explosion of possibilities in Mexican cooking.” He found the restaurant “sharp and well thought-out, without clobbering everybody over the noggin with formally dazzling kitchen wizardry,” though there were some missteps. The corn nuts with seaweed salt were “as hard as nuggets of quartz” though “oddly compelling.” The tiradito “looked like a plate of brains with a sprig of frisee on top,” but “it was delicious.” Beef tongue “ain't the prettiest thing I ever did see, but it sure was good.” It seemed to be the common theme, that Kane thought the dishes didn’t look good or seem initially good, but ended up winning him over. He ended his review saying that “once its roots reach the water table and Salsipuedes really gets going, its team should have a crowd favorite on its hands.” [SF Weekly]

Luke Tsai traveled to Oscar’s Grill in Alameda to get a beloved SoCal-style burrito, which is carb-bombed with french fries instead of rice and beans and is Tsai’s definite burrito preference. He found it to be “a better burrito than I had any realistic reason to expect,” he wrote. He thought the beef could be more “tender” and that “the French fries weren't as quite as crisp” as they should be. “But the combination of flavors and textures was outstanding: the chewy savoriness of the grilled steak, the cool tanginess of the guacamole, and the modest crunch of the thin-cut fries. Best of all, the version at Oscar's was loaded with a spicy housemade nacho cheese that oozed richness into every bite.” All in all, Tsai found it to be a solid option for the area, especially the nearby office lunch crowd, though he wrote, “Make no mistake: You aren't coming to Oscar's Grill for the ambience.” [East Bay Express]

Despire the “weariness in the air” at Geneva Steak House in the Outer Mission, Anna Roth wrote that she was surprised to find out that “the food is good.” The romaine salad is “crisp,” the steak “juicy and salty and tasting of the grill” and the top-seller half chicken has a “smoky flavor and meat so moist you don’t even need the sweet barbecue sauce that accompanies it.” Roth wrote that Geneva, open since 1942, is a blast from the past, when San Francisco “used to have several of these value-driven family restaurants,” though now most have been “driven out by rising rents and changing palates.” Proprietor Michael Kimiyaie owns the building so doesn’t have to pay rent, and he is committed to making most ingredients, like the salad dressing, fresh in-house, which Roth enjoyed, much like all the rest of the food. Most of all, though, she enjoyed the family-friendly environment and legacy of the restaurant that “seems presumptive and condescending to pre-emptively mourn” in the face of other similar San Francisco losses, so she instead chose to “celebrate its life while we still have it.” [The Chron]

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