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Bauer Calls Shed the Best Restaurant in Sonoma County; Kane Has a Crush on Volta

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Plus, Bauer re-reviews Spruce, Anna Roth seeks out the city’s best beer bars with food and Luke Tsai reviews Pal’s Takeaway.


Over in Sonoma County, Michael Bauer headed to Shed, and he is boldly saying that "already, it might be the best restaurant in Sonoma County." Chef Perry Hoffman is using the area’s produce in ways that "visually depict the bounty in such a vibrant, respectful way." Stand-out dishes include the "not-to-be-missed" housemade charcuterie, "perfectly bronzed" whole poussin "served with its feet and head attached," a raw carrot salad that "tastes like the height of summer" and "perfectly blistered" sunchoke pizza. Service is "seemingly inexperienced" but "they try very hard." Even though you’re sitting in a retail store, "it works," Bauer wrote. "The Shed celebrates its location in a way that no other place duplicates. It feels like the most authentic and beautifully conceived restaurant in Sonoma County right now." 3 stars. [The Chron]

Spruce got a repeat visit from Bauer this week, who found "attentive" service, but sometimes lacking food. While he enjoyed the "velvety" cauliflower soup and "one of the best preparations" of steak tartare he’s ever had, the sugar pumpkin mezzaluna "was never able to fill its expectations" and the duck leg lasagna was "musty-tasting" with "a pablum-like texture." "It became clear that while the food was good, it wasn’t the star. That honor goes to the service, which is among the most professional you’ll find, and the interior — even if you’re on the outside looking in," he concluded. 3 stars. [The Chron]

"Volta is a spectacular restaurant," Peter Kane started out his review of the new French Scandinavian brasserie in SoMa. He wrote that chef Staffan Terje's herring five ways "is a must." The skagen was "as creamy and bracing as a fresh seafood salad," the Volta toast had "buttery chanterelles à la crème," and the köttbullar (Swedish meatballs) are incomprarably better than Ikea’s. The only disappointment was a "mealy" tête de cochon. But that’s it. "I realize I'm basically giggling and shyly passing Volta a heart-covered note, but that's about all I've got. Volta is destined to show up on the pages of glossy magazines buzzing about San Francisco at the peak of the boom, and it deserves all the attention it's going to get," he concluded. [SF Weekly]

Likely in anticipation of Beer Week, Anna Roth made her "beer bars that serve great food" recommendations, with Biergarten, Black Sands, Monk’s Kettle, Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery, Mikkeller, Old Bus Tavern, Rosamunde Sausage Grill, The Yard at Mission Rock, The Dock at Linden Street, Drake’s Dealership and Half Orange all making the list. Of Black Sands, Roth wrote that, "chef Eric Ehler is making brew pub food that’s a step beyond the usual fried chicken, burger and sausage formula," especially digging his Asian-inspired chicken strips. She didn’t love it all, though, like the "too sweet" pork at Sessions on the Presidio and the "onslaught of salt" at Crafty Fox. [The Chron]

At the relocation of Pal’s Takeaway in the new Firebrand Bread in Oakland, Luke Tsai found "playful" sandwiches, "an essential part of what makes them great," he wrote. Tsai thought the best sandwiches were a tuna salad one, a fried laotian sour sausage and and a vegetable version. Tsai hopes that Pal’s "will stick around for a while and become a local institution." [East Bay Express]