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Esan Classic’s Extensive Menu Made Bauer’s Head Spin and Nose Run

Also: the critic shows his age at a couple of booze-forward dining establishments

Esan Classic

Esan Classic

After four visits, Michael Bauer feels like he managed to finally wrap his head around the 120-item menu at Esan Classic, the new regional Thai spinoff of Lers Ros. Although he’s frustrated by his fear of missing out, he found plenty of “spectacular” and “complex” dishes served in the slick, modern interior chef-owner Tom Silargorn has become known for. Among the best of them: the straightforward Esan Classic Special grilled sirloin with an “explosive” rice and chile powder sauce and the “fiery” beef shank soup that “enough chiles to clear the sinuses and make the nose run.”

In fact, Bauer says you can’t really go wrong with the soups or the stocky curries, but the extensive menu does leave a little too much room for some disappointments like a “dull and heavy” chile and galangal sauce that brought down the pad phed. Two and a half stars, with a note that “more is not necessarily better.”

Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette

Ten miles North of Monterey, Bauer found some fodder for a Between Meals post at Salt Wood, a new “must-visit” seafood spot from chef David Baron. Oysters are naturally a highlight, and they’re served here either raw or dressed up with sausage, tarragon pesto or kimchi butter. But it’s dishes like the “first-of-the season” crab remoulade, the chorizo-stuffed squid and “excellent” fried chicken with cheddar biscuits that make it a necessary stop on the Monterey peninsula.

Foxsister and Salzberg

Elsewhere on the Bauer blog, the longtime critic is going on about the kids these days and their preference for casual restaurants where you can also get fairly intoxicated. The latest examples of this trend are the “downright fun” and “psychedelic” Foxsister on 24th Street and the Austrian spätzle house/wine bar Salzberg in North Beach. At the former, Bauer recommends the Dungeness crab noodles. At the latter, go for the sausages, which include “some of the juiciest bratwurst I’ve encountered.”


In Fruitvale, Express critic Janelle Bitker gives us her thoughts on baker-owner Reem Assil’s controversial and eponymous Arab bakery. “There are no wrong decisions here,” Bitker says of the man'oushe that originally made Reem’s a hit, and there’s nothing that she didn’t love on top of the traditional flatbread. For something different, Bitker recommends the mu'ajinaat baked turnovers or the sweet sfoof tea cake.

What’s new at Reem’s, however, is the dinner service that started in October with a rotating menu that features items like a “ramped-up” Musakhan Flatbread and lamb burger “cooked just right” on a housemade bun with Manchego cheese and a side of “couldn't get enough” botata harra fries.

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