For Eater SF, Rachel Levin checked in on Kaya, to see how the transformation from Daniel Patterson’s Alta to Nigel Jones’ Kingston 11-spinoff was coming along. Despite the colorful drinks and playful attitude, mid-Market Street “will never be Jamaica,” Levin writes, but that’s not the restaurant’s fault — and it succeeds on many points: the jerk chicken, the black-pepper tofu and the kale salad were all worth an order. And who can argue with a rum-based Negril-oni? Two stars.
Juanita & Maude
As expected, in-the-know local food critic Michael Bauer caught wind of Albany’s new worth-the-trip hotspot Juanita & Maude. After a glowing review from East Bay Express critic Janelle Bitker in January, Eater’s own Rachel Levin gave the “fresh, lively, current” neighborhood spot two stars. Despite some “taxed” staff on his early visits, Bauer agrees that chef-owner Scott Eastman “has a keen grasp of what comes out of the kitchen.” The menu is broad, but it checks off three trends for Bauer: house-made charcuterie, flatbread and crudo — all of which he recommends, along with the rotating pasta dishes that Eastman honed over nine years at Corso. Other recommendations include the “spot-on” sausages and the bacon-wrapped monkfish that is “destined to have a long life on the menu.”
Mid-review, Bauer reveals his personal bias for chopped salads, admitting that he is “attracted” to dishes where “everything is about the same size.” He goes on to note that Eastman’s version — with apple, raisins, walnuts and blue cheese — is “a particularly good example.” This, plus a “fully realized bar program,” are worth two and a half stars.
Fast-casual Bauer went upscale for his Between Meals blog this week, stopping in at CDP, the little-sister wine bar to James Syhabout’s Commis in Oakland. As Syhabout’s star continues to rise, CDP is the “perfect place to go before or after dinner at Commis,” Bauer says. In fact, it was so cozy, Bauer eventually decides he’d even return to CDP “independent of dining at Commis.”
Fillmore Social Club
In the Fillmore, Pete Kane found “no complimentary banchan — or much banchan of any kind” at the “Americanized Korean” Fillmore Social Club. Even without all those little bowls, “there are many dishes worth trying” like the “perfectly respectable” spider roll, the kimchi jun, or the must-order Gimmari deep-fried seaweed spring rolls. It’s a “simultaneously goofy and ambitious” restaurant, Kane says, and you should definitely order the “perfectly flavored” moe galbi short ribs.
W.E.P.A.! at Brix 581
East Bay Express critic Janelle Bitker followed beloved Puerto Rican pop-up Borinquen Soul to Jack London Square nightclub Brix 581, where chef-owner Eric Rivera has taken up residence. The resulting project is the enthusiastically named W.E.P.A.! — which is both a Puerto Rican exclamation of congratulations, and an acronym for “Where Everybody Parties At.” Rivera still offers Puerto Rican staples like garlic with plantains and arroz con gandules, but the menu has grown to include some snacks like “canoas”, or canoes, of caramelized plantains stuffed with meat and cheese that “feels perfect for booze-fueled grubbing.” Other dishes like the bacalaitos codfish fritters and the “shatteringly crispy” chicken and cheese empanadas fit the bar food vibe, while the “juicy and tempting” chuletas fritas (fried pork chop) and the chicken chicharrones could easily add up to a filling meal.
- Kaya Not Yet the Caribbean Destination It’s Aiming For [Eater SF]
- Juanita & Maude a personal statement from chef Scott Eastman in Albany [San Francisco Chronicle]
- Commis is only one jewel in James Syhabout’s crown [San Francisco Chronicle]
- Enlist for Jazzy Army Duty, at Fillmore Social Club [SF Weekly]
- W.E.P.A.! at Brix 581 Rises from the Ashes of Borinquen Soul [East Bay Express]