After three decades of reviewing restaurants across the Bay Area, Michael Bauer finally discovered a new neighborhood: Treasure Island, where “you feel as if you’ve traveled to another world.” And the place to eat and drink there (somewhat literally, it’s the only business on the island with a full liquor license) is MerSea. The restaurant, Bauer notes, was built by tech veteran MeeSun Boice and chef Parke Ulrich, who also partnered on Waterbar and Epic Steak across the water on the Embarcadero. The pair, members of the Treasure Island Yacht Club had “lamented that they didn’t have anyplace to go after sailing.”
So their latest restaurant is an indoor-outdoor space made from “uplifting” recycled materials with Hawaiian music, bocce courts, a putting green, and a menu that manages to cover snack bar fare, fine dining and budget-minded roast chickens that are $14 out-the-door. Where Pete Kane ribbed the design, calling it a “Dwell-baiting dream made manifest,” Bauer feels the shipping container-chic aesthetic “fits perfectly with the underdeveloped land.”
Some of the menu, however, was also a bit underdeveloped. A few of the sandwiches, including the burger, were so “generously loaded” they were too messy to eat. The short ribs with spätzle gratin started out good before giving way to “a flash flood of grease.” The ricotta ravioli, on the other hand, “would be right at home” in a more formal spot like Waterbar or Epic. Even though “there’s certainly room for improvement,” the vibe makes it a likely place to find him and his dog, Bauer says, while taking the opportunity to identify the pedigree of his Brittany spaniel Sheba with more specificity than either the hamburger or the roast chicken on the menu. Two and a half stars.
Bull Valley Roadhouse
On the Bauer Blog, the critic found returned to Bull Valley Roadhouse, where he found, “carefully sourced produce,” “easily shared large plates” of fried chicken and strip steak, and “pre-Prohibition cocktails” in the pre-Prohibition town of Port Costa. Bauer has a soft spot for this Top 100 spot, and even though the vibe could have easily been cliche, he believes, “in our fast-moving world this restaurant offers a much-needed perspective.”
Pete Kane adds his review to the growing portfolio at Nigel Jones and Daniel Patterson’s much-discussed “bougie-fied” San Francisco version of Kingston 11. “Fun, approachable places have done best” in this little corner of Market Street, Kane says, and Kaya “continues the tradition.”
Although the menu is “practically identical” Kingston 11, Kane chalks up the price increase to the inclusive-tipping policy, and is happy with the East Bay-West Bay translations. The salt fish fritters were “thoroughly excellent,” the caramelized carrots and squash were bursting with “exuberant personality,” and the pickled papaya salad was the perfect counterpoint “perfect counterpoint to all the Scotch Bonnet peppers.” All of it setting you up for the standouts: jerk chicken and the sticky but not-to-be-overlooked black pepper crab.
Moussaka Mediterranean Kitchen
At Moussaka Mediterranean Kitchen there is “an immediate, international flair,” writes East Bay Express critic Janelle Bitker. Chef Nilgun Boyar, a former sous at Quince, has created a place with “an air of sophistication you don’t find too often” in San Leandro. The menu reflects Boyar’s upbringing in Turkey and Greece with Bay Area produce, resulting in a few standouts like the namesake moussaka, the Turkish manti dumplings and the lamb and beef beyti kebabs.
At other times, Boyar can be trying to do too much with the five-page menu, and dishes like veal scallopini or duck bacon sliders feel like a stretch. (Even if the “combination of flavors was lovely” on the duck bacon.) On the other hand, the not-particularly Mediterranean chia seed-crusted salmon was “flawless,” “like something you’d find at an upscale American restaurant.”
- Best views of San Francisco? Head to MerSea, a new Treasure Island restaurant [San Francisco Chronicle]
- Bull Valley Roadhouse a bridge from past to present [San Francisco Chronicle]
- Making Plans With Nigel, at Kaya [SF Weekly]
- In San Leandro, Moussaka Mediterranean Kitchen Shines with Refined Execution[East Bay Express]