While Alta and Locol get all the thinkpieces and reviews, Daniel Patterson’s other project, the grass-fed rebirth of Alfred’s Steakhouse, has received an updated judgement from Michael Bauer. About 16 months and one basement fire after his last review, Bauer says the two changes that stick out the most are “the elevated flavor” of the grain-finished, dry-aged cuts from San Rafael’s Flannery Beef and the “escalation in prices” that have hit the menu along with it.
For $75, the massive 28-ounce Alfred’s cut had “good marbling” and a firm texture “enhanced with the smoky char of mesquite wood.” While Bauer didn’t have any words for the classic steakhouse sides, he did enjoy the oysters Rockefeller punched up with some pork belly and scotch. The celery Victor, however, had too much acid and left our critic with “tiny blisters on my tongue.” Hoping the $49 nightly rotating prix-fixe School Night Special would fare better, Bauer also stopped in on a Tuesday for fried chicken night. Although the half chicken was “properly fried” Bauer was disappointed by the wet mashed potatoes and greens underneath that “diminished the pleasure of the crunchy crust.” Ultimately though, it was the service that let Bauer down and everyone “always seemed like they had somewhere else to be.” Not exactly the vibe an old-school steakhouse wants to give off. Despite the staff’s mistakes, Bauer himself made a few errors in his review, misstating some of the post-fire changes and erroneously claiming the restaurant used to serve a Caesar salad. Two stars for Alfred’s. Minus one star for Bauer.
At the Weekly, Pete Kane says he was “seduced” — or possibly even “/ravished/” — by Adam Tortosa’s highly anticipated omakase spot Robin. It was so good, in fact, Kane had to resist the urge to tell one of the chefs, “you’re doing everything right, I love you, thanks.”
Of the many rotating dishes, Kane highlights the “opuluent” nigiri like the whitefish sashimi, sea robin with ponzu and grapefruit, Hokkaido scallop with uni and an “intermission” of Mendocino uni with emulsified egg yolk “that makes you wish the second act never starts.” The only flop, Kane says was the first A5 Wagyu dish — a tartare with diced pear and Japanese seven-spice that was “almost mute.” In a town currently experience a glut of omakase restaurants, Robin “debuted closest to the city’s zeitgeist,” Kane says, and Tortosa has created a wholly Californian sushi restaurant that “never ceases to be fish-centric.”
In San Leandro, East Bay Express critic Janelle Bitker finds the intersection of West Africa and the American South at Liberian spot Kendejah Restaurant. While the East Bay has been losing all its West African restaurants, Kendejah is a “must-visit” for its “soul-warming, homey comfort foods.” Topping her recommendations are a Thursdays-only dish of fried okra, stewed and poured over smokey meat and rice; or the Tuesday special of palm butter stew hiding tinder meat and a whole crab leg.
As for the regular daily items, Bitker points diners towards the oxtail stew, the attieke (fermented and grated cassava with the consistency of couscous), or the jollof rice studded with beans, veggies and accompanied by a side of plantains and chicken. While the dishes at Kendejah may lack heat, owner and sole-server Dougie Uso makes up for it with a secret housemade hot pepper sauce and an effusive personality that draws diners closer to the history of Liberia itself.
Michael Bauer thinks deeply about the purpose of restaurants in the age of Blue Apron and Amazon.
- Alfred’s Steakhouse stays classic, but service needs an update [Chronicle]
- Robin Is San Francisco’s Premier Omakase Experience [SF Weekly]
- Kendejah Restaurant Offers the Bay Area’s Only Taste of Liberia [East Bay Express]