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Michael Bauer Slices Up Three Stars for Robin’s ‘Cutting Edge’ Omakase

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Also: Rachel Levin heads to the Outer Sunset for fish tacos, Pete Kane gets drunk on gator bites, and Janelle Bitker discovers surprising comfort food in West Oakland

Patricia Chang

Hook Fish Co.

Eater’s own Rachel Levin trekked out to Ocean Beach to sample the catch(es) of the day at the Outer Sunset’s new “elevated seafood shack.” Her verdict: it’s hard to go wrong with locally caught fish, accessible prices and a couple of cold Pacificos. Fish tacos abound, and don’t miss the house-smoked trout salad. Two stars.


Speaking of fresh and local fish, extreme omakase-eater and local food critic Michael Bauer filed his review of chef Adam Tortosa’s much-anticipated Robin. From the outset, Bauer is impressed by the “cutting-edge” (and expensive) decor, as well as Tortosa’s similarly unrestrained approach to sushi. “It’s curious,” Bauer says of the nigiri topped with caviar and a potato chip, or the Mount Lassen Trout delicately garnished with a slice of peach — “but prods all the senses in the best way.”

Always on the lookout for a bargain, Bauer’s first trip aimed for the low end of the variable $79-$179 tasting menu. Although it’s not the first omakase joint to offer multiple price levels, at Robin “diners are in charge, and there are always a few surprises,” Bauer says and less spendy diners won’t have to worry about going hungry or missing out. Even dining at a table, away from the front-row seats of the sushi bar, “diners still feel a part of the action,” helped along by knowledgeable servers. After chatting up the chef and breezing through more “free-wheeling” signature bites like Wagyu nigiri dusted with frozen foie gras or Tokyo ramen under a shaving of black truffles, Bauer drops three stars for Robin.

Scala’s Bistro and Maven:

On the fast-casual column, Bauer writes that the remodel at Scala’s Bistro “cheapens the feel of the place,” inside the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. At Maven, on the other hand, the restaurant still “feels like a party” and the kitchen “continues to give off good vibes” after chef duo Jeremy Browand and Freddy Pacheco took over a few months ago.

Hazel Southern Bar & Kitchen

Along mid-Market, Pete Kane found another place that feels like a party at Hazel, which has its own connection to Maven. As he is admittedly predisposed to liking fried things, Kane found a lot to enjoy here: tater tot nachos, “addictive” gator bites and chicken wings that were “tangy and spicy in equal measure.” The deserts and cornbread biscuits were “forgettable,” but main courses like braised oxtail and blackened catfish was “firmly in the ‘win’ column.”

Apropos for a sports bar, the drinks don’t veer too far from the classics aside from some flourishes like an extra float of dark rum in the Hurricane or a “cilantro-forward” margarita. While Kane definitely enjoys the place overall, he’s got one major caveat: “It’s bro-y in there.”

Ivy Moon

In West Oakland, Express critic Janelle Bitker tries a new presentation of chicken and waffles at Ivy Moon, Tanesia Sellman’s three-month old New American spot in Hoover-Foster. While the cuisine might draw comparisons to beloved local spots like Brown Sugar Kitchen, Sellman has a fresh perspective that comes from her lack of formal training, Bitker says — plus a recipe for great grits passed down from her grandmother.

When combined with “colossal-sized shrimp,” a sunny-side-up egg, and “deep-fried morsels” of cornmeal for an extra layer of texture, those grits headline what is “almost certainly” the restaurant’s best dish. The blackened cod sandwich comes in a close second place, while the chicken and waffles — topped here with nuggets that were “a touch to dry” — still pulled off the necessary sweet-salty combination without all the mess.


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