Michael Bauer’s review of The Kebabery is a little short on food details this week, but it contains plenty of praise for owners Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain and the impeccable sourcing they’ve carried over from Camino. After reviewing the dead grass on the sidewalk outside the restaurant — but before disclosing that his partner Michael Murphy sells $200 duck butchery classes with Hopelain and Moore through his involvement with IfOnly — Bauer decides that the result of all the careful sourcing is “is often less than the sum of its parts.”
The critic says he liked all three of the kebab options: The “nicely seasoned” lamb, the “boldly spiced” chicken and (his favorite) the trumpet mushrooms cooked slowly to release “their earthy essence.” Although the skewers are good, nothing “quite hit the sweet spot where the good becomes even better by what’s around it,” he says, and the overall result “comes up short” compared to other fast casual concepts like Souvla. Despite all that, it’s the restaurant’s surroundings that he lightly disparaged at the top of his review that give Bauer the most hope for the Kebabery. Moore and Hopelain have “totally embraced” the Longfellow neighborhood, he says, and he hopes the restaurant will “evolve” as the staff gets to know their neighbors. Two stars for the Kebabery.
At the 10-year-old Wood Tavern, Bauer checks in to see how chef Esteban Escobar is doing in the kitchen, now that owners Rich and Rebekah Wood have shifted some of their attention to The Wolf in Piedmont. Escobar excels at simple items and many of the restaurant’s longtime staples: the pan-roasted half-chicken shows off his “unique talent,” and his restraint is evident in the whiskey-enhanced chicken liver mousse or the lightly seasoned tuna tartare.
There’s less holding back on the main dishes, however, and that’s a turnoff for Bauer. The “moist and nicely cooked” pork chop was laying in a distracting pool of Marsala cream sauce and the seared halibut was “buried” in corn, cornbread croutons, mushrooms, and brodo. With consistently good cocktails and desserts, however, Wood Tavern still shines with two and a half stars.
The Landing Cafe
For SFWeekly, Pete Kane took a gondola to the top of the Oakland Zoo to answer two questions about the recently re-opened, $13 million *Landing Cafe*. First: is it worth a trip to the zoo, for a childless adult? And second: is the food better than any other zoo, airport or stadium concessionaire? The “view is incredible,” Kane says, and the menu skips gimmicky items (and even kid’s menu items) in favor of solid, locally sourced items like a tri-tip sandwich and Gilroy garlic fries. The sandwich sounds serviceable in Kane’s estimation and the fries “would pass muster on any bar’s happy-hour snack menu.” Likewise, summery salad was “as good as it gets” and a white pizza was properly priced at just under $11. While the items may not have been prepared with the same care of a fine dining restaurant, “we didn’t feel ripped off,” Kane says, and sometimes that’s all you need from a restaurant that offers a view of some funny baboon butts.
Eater’s own Rachel Levin reviewed City Counter’s sandwich lineup. August is San Francisco Magazine’s “Where to Eat Now” issue and critic Josh Sens has delivered his top 10 meals of the year, as have his colleagues Rebecca Flint-Marx and former Express critic Luke Tsai. Speaking of which, the Express is also running their annual “Best of the East Bay” issue, which means there are no shortage of staff picks.