Much has been said about the strictly-sustainable The Perennial in weeks past, but as owners Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint even admit — the food has to be good for it to work. And now, San Francisco’s leading food authority (for better or worse) has weighed in. The verdict? Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer has awarded the restaurant 2 ½ stars, an admirable rating by his standards. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say:
At times the Perennial can seem painfully politically correct, and my initial impression was mixed, thinking the main reason to return would be to support the noble endeavor. But over the course of my three visits, the food from chef Chris Kiyuna steadily improved; now, I’d happily return just to eat … Kiyuna — who has spent time in the kitchens of Mission Chinese Food, Coi, Plum and Contigo — has to juggle more restrictions than other chefs, and it’s taken a while to wrap his talent around them … In the end, I love the idea of what Myint and Leibowitz are trying to do at the Perennial. Yet the restaurant can only be truly successful if the food stands on its own. It feels as if Kiyuna is finding his groove and standing tall.
Dishes Bauer enjoyed included the "magnificently seasoned" pumpkin seed bisque, the "fully realized" — though small — steak tartare and the "compelling" cauliflower toast. 2 ½ stars. [The Chron]
The Elsewhere: Bauer revisited Amber India, which he thought “lost its edge;” Anna Roth found a gem in Cambodian pop-up Nyum Bai; Peter Kane enjoyed Brasserie Saint James; Luke Tsai went to “the only bona fide Tongan restaurant in the entire East Bay,” Katalina's Island Grill and Grocery.