Henry’s at the Graduate
“Leave it to Berkeley” — and chef Chris Kronner — “to lure students with oil-cured fennel salads and coal-roasted lamb neck,” Eater San Francisco critic Rachel Levin writes this week from Kronner’s new full-time, all-day endeavor at the “recently remodeled and hip-ified” Graduate Hotel. As East Bay Express critic Janelle Bitker notes, Kronner and his team have created “a dramatically new and ambitious restaurant” here, and the menu proves Kronner’s crew has a range that goes well beyond burgers. Or, as Levin put it, “like senior year: still in school, but insisting upon sophistication.”
The Parisian gnocchi, for example, stood out to Bitker with its “bright, cinematic sauce” of miso brown butter and preserved lemon. And, at brunch, there’s a “perfect, pristine specimen” of a Tartine biscuit drenched in spicy nduja gravy. On the other hand, Levin thought gnocchi “tasted like underseasoned cotton balls” and the halibut tartare was “more reminiscent of a chunky, slightly fishy yogurt.” While Bitker veered to the more grown-up entrees, Levin’s advice was to stick with the burgers. One star from Levin, and “soaring” praise from Bitker.
While heading out the door for a holiday in Italy, Bauer filed a review of Protégé, the peninsula’s “cutting-edge concept” from French Laundry alums Dennis Kelly and Anthony Secviar. “If Protégé doesn’t thrive,” then there’s no hope for Palo Alto’s dining scene, Bauer declares, “for it has excellent food, a well-tailored interior and good service” with “little of the pretense” of Thomas Keller’s mothership.
The lounge “is a fully realized restaurant” with an a la carte menu that shows a surprising amount of care and dishes that are “miles above your typical bar food.” Picture: crystalized tapioca chips, meticulously diced kampachi and chickpea panisse topped with octopus. Three stars.
The full liquor license that came with Nico’s new home in the FiDi has resulted in “the most beautiful cocktail in San Francisco,” Pete Kane writes after crossing paths with the charcoal and rose Le Chat Noir. The six-course, $62 dinner menu that follows is tour of local produce and a parade of various sabayons. “Let the world be free of foams forever,” Kane proclaims, “and full of sabayons instead.” While there were a few flavors and textures “out of whack,” the whole experience is relatively free of gimmicks or trends, Kane says, and no where else in the FiDi “feels quite this romantic.”
The Black Cat
Speaking of dark felines, Pete Kane also filed an update review from the Tenderloin’s jazz club du jour, where former Top Chef contestant and pop-up wrangler Tu David Phu has taken over the previously maligned kitchen. With Phu in charge, the Black Cat has trimmed the menu down to the classics, Kane says, but the prices are still too high and the portions too small for the food to outweigh the live music. That said, while you’re enjoying the tunes, Kane recommends the “melt-in-your-mouth” Mayan ceviche tostada with “fastidiously sourced amberjack” or the “expertly handled” scallops Rockefeller.
In North Berkeley, Janelle Bitker also checked out “traditionalist” sushi spot Kamado Sushi, where chef Jin Joo’s eschews Americanized sushi rolls in favor of “exciting, unusual specimens” from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Fish Market. Omakase meals might include mantis shrimp that is only available a few weeks per year, “cold and crunchy” ice fish with a flavor “reminiscent of grapefruit,” and “remarkably creamy and soft” firefly squid — but, as a neighborhood Japanese joint, you shouldn’t skip the “excellent” chawanmushi either.
Pizza traitor Anthony Mangieri’s fourth iteration of Una Pizza Napoletana has lost some of its luster now that the shop is back in Manhattan writes Eater’s Ryan Sutton. Although Mangieri’s dough still reigns supreme, toppings like “subpar imported mozzarella” mean the margherita can be skipped in favor of what have become the real draws here: desserts by chef Fabian von Hauske and appetizers by Jeremiah Stone. One star.
Finally, as part of the Chronicle’s big Mission guide, Listicle Bauer pulled out the neighborhood’s four best tasting menu restaurants from his Top 100 list. Then, in hopes of chasing away the last of the June Gloom, he pulled out another ten spots with outdoor tables. Bauer’s pre-flight appetizer before that trip to Italy, by the way? Avocado and bay shrimp salad from Cotogna.
- Henry’s, a Berkeley Classic, Still Has Room to Improve [Eater SF]
- Henry’s Soars to New Heights Thanks to the Kronnerburger Team [East Bay Express]
- Palo Alto finally gets an exceptional restaurant: Protégé from French Laundry alumni [SF Chronicle]
- Kamado Sushi: A Haven for Traditionalists [East Bay Express]
- Nico Has the Most Beautiful Cocktail in San Francisco [SF Weekly]
- Black Cat’s Second Life [SF Weekly]