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Gibson’s ‘Whimsical’ Menu is a Critical Hit

Also: Bauer has some updated thoughts on The Morris and Pete Kane finds clean eating in a former McDonald’s.

Gibson
Patricia Chang

Beep’s Burgers

Could it be possible? A great burger in San Francisco for under 10 bucks? Eater’s own Rachel Levin headed to Ingleside’s classic burger joint to find it, along with some killer jalapeño poppers, onion rings and oreo shakes.


Gibson

Meanwhile, Michael Bauer and his contemporary at San Francisco Magazine, Josh Sens, both headed to the Tenderloin’s Hotel Bijou to check out the marquee project from former Hog & Rocks chef and Chronicle Rising Star Robin Song. Both critics acknowledge the recent trend towards what Sens calls “chef-hotel marriages” in the neighborhood, but at Gibson, Bauer notes that “diners will confront the results of San Francisco’s failed homeless policies as they walk to the restaurant,” a few blocks off Market Street.

Once inside, however, they will be met with what Bauer describes as “whimsical Deco-meets-movie palace decor” and a wide open kitchen turning out an “eclectic” menu of small plates. Sens likewise lands on “whimsical and multicultural” to describe the menu that ranges from simple items like fall fruits to a lobster consommé “cleaned up and slimmed down for California life.”

The ten-course, $65 tasting menu is designed to stay casual, yet “some preparations are nearly as complex as you’ll find at Saison,” Bauer notes, although at a significantly lower price point. The cured trout on rye or the whipped uni in charred cucumber cups, Bauer says, are the sort of hors d’oeuvres you’d expect “if a four-star restaurant threw a cocktail party.” While Sens says he wasn’t thrilled by the “frothy uni bagna cauda” on those same cucumber cups, both critics cannot rave enough about the bread course with its oven-fired sourdough rolls and quintet of spreads. While the a la carte entrees are “more like a large appetizer,” Song’s breakout dishes are clearly the bone marrow flan topped with uni and dashi, as well as the wood-roasted carrots finished with sunflower-seed risotto. Two and a half stars from Bauer and three stars from Sens.


The Morris

More than a year after Paul Einbund’s hype-laden opening at The Morris, Michael Bauer returned to see how Chef Gavin Schmidt’s bold flavors stand up. In general, Bauer is pleased with the direction Schmidt has taken, slimming down the menu and sharpening his best dishes. The signature smoked duck is “even better” with 12 months of refinement, Bauer says, and the smokiness has been dialed back to allow some of the bird’s “sweet gaminess” to come out. Another of Schmidt’s signature dishes, the chicken and foie gras dumplings, is “the best $3.50 I’ve spent in some time” and the critic had to stop himself after one although he “could have easily eaten three.” Although Schmidt’s menu is obviously the star, Einbund’s presence is part of the restaurant’s “fully immersive experience.” An experience that is now worth three Bauer stars.


Kitava

Having already done his tour of duty on the hotel restaurant beat, the Weekly’s Pete Kane dives into the latest restaurant-related controversy in the Mission: the arrival of a gluten-free and Paleo-friendly spot where a McDonald’s used to be. Despite it’s stanch against wheat products and refined oils, Kitava “doesn’t cultivate a fear of food,” Kane says, and much of the menu is “accessible,” even if it is frequently bland. With dietary restrictions accounted for, the adobo chicken Baja Bowl got Kane’s “best bet” rating and the butternut squash hummus also had the potential to “achieve escape velocity and become widespread” outside of such a health-conscious environment. On the other hand, the pricey $19 salmon “street tacos” and some unfortunate zucchini noodles were strong reminders that clean eating has its limits.


Gibson

111 Mason Street, , CA 94102 (415) 771-7709 Visit Website

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