Eater’s Rachel Levin visited the latest “elaborate, expensive tasting menu in a high-flying town that’s teeming with them.” Despite some awkward service and a cold atmosphere, chef Rodney Wages covers “all of culinary hedonism’s greatest hits” and Levin “revered, and demolished, almost every dish” on the 15-course menu. Two stars.
In a full-length, unstarred review, noted local fedora-wearer Michael Bauer buzzes with excitement for the housemade tortillas at Gran Electrica in Napa. As the West Coast offshoot of the popular “straight outta Brooklyn” upscale Mexican spot, the restaurant has a built-in audience and a “tongue-in-cheek approach” that translates into cocktails that sound exotic — like a cucumber rhubarb margarita or the charcoal and mezcal negra negroni — but are, in Bauer’s critical opinion, “fine.”
Foodwise, everything on chef Ignacio Beltran’s menu of Botanas, Tacos, Tostadas, Platos and Acompanamientos is “good,” Bauer says, but “consistency is still an issue” and dishes that fell flat on one visit were “electric” on another. One thing the kitchen has mastered though: the barbacoa in which, “the complexity unfolds in layers and each bite elicits a different impression.” That and the “excellent” tortillas. (Unrelated: whoever wrote “straight outta Brooklyn” into Michael Bauer’s headline needs to fess up right now.)
Operating on a hot tip from “the OpenTable website,” Bauer also dropped in to Cow Hollow’s Terzo, to see what this 4.8 user rating is all about. Bauer’s last memory of the restaurant dates back at least seven years, the critic notes, back to a time when an important debate was raging in the local restaurant industry: should tablecloths be allowed in our local dining establishments? At the time, Terzo, which has a neighborhoody Cal-Ital menu, came up with a clever solution: use tablecloths that cover only part of the table.
Anyhow, seven years later, Bauer has returned, the chefs have all been promoted, the dining room “still feels current,” the large plates are “particularly generous,” and the desserts are “fully realized.”
The sequel to Reem’s California “proves that Reem Assil is the chef to watch,” the Weekly’s Pete Kane writes. With a bigger, more formal dining room and Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group behind her, Kane is feeling Assil’s dedication to “the art of making perfect strangers feel as welcome as a beloved aunt” almost as much as the “pillowy, oven-fresh” and “comforting” pita coming out of the oven. The salatet bakleh with purslane, bulgur, and asparagus was “spot-on,” and the haliyoon with asparagus and fried egg was “remarkable,” leading Kane to conclude Assil’s biggest strength is “making deceptively simple-looking dishes burst with flavor.”
Bird & Buffalo
Among the ever-growing variety of Thai restaurants in the East Bay, Temescal’s Bird & Buffalo “offers a unique experience,” Express critic Janelle Bitker writes. It’s Americanized in some ways (like the beer list and the dietary considerations) but the menu focuses on “simple, rustic” Thai cooking. The “casual, laid-back” spot offers rice bowls inspired by the roadside curry stands in Thailand — although the best orders are the “satisfying, balanced” stir-fried options, as Bitker found the actual curries to be a little more inconsistent. Bitker also recognizes Bird & Buffalo’s thoughtful vegan menu for it’s “comprehensive intent” and dishes that “felt on a par with [the] meaty options in the funk and spice departments.” That said, there were as many disappointments on the menu as high points. Skip the roast chicken and go for the lamb chops.
- Gran Electrica in Napa: Mexican cuisine straight outta Brooklyn [San Francisco Chronicle]
- Terzo feels at home in Cow Hollow [San Francisco Chronicle]
- Dyafa Proves That Reem Assil Is the Chef to Watch [SF Weekly]
- Bird & Buffalo Serves Thai Soul Food with Mixed Results [East Bay Express]