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After Neighborhood Transplant, Nico Gets a Bauer Bump

Also: luscious pastas at Pearl and more praise for Nyum Bai

Patricia Chang

Nico

At Nico’s new home in the Financial District, Bauer says the move “hasn’t impeded” chef Nicolas Delaroque’s creativity, but made it more “precise and focused” in the process. The prix fixe tasting menus are still a steal and it’s worth the extra $20 for two more courses at dinner just to watch the chef indulge what Bauer calls, “his penchant for marrying unexpected ingredients.”

Although the menu changes nightly, the style is “consistent” and each dish “is fully composed to awaken all the senses,” Bauer says, like squid noodles topped with “fleshy” purslane, or “fatty” lamb refined with a “velvety” meat sauce. A dessert course, followed by fresh-baked madeleines left Bauer claiming Nico would be “even more popular in France than it is in San Francisco.” Three and a half stars.


STEM Kitchen & Garden

In an unstarred fast-casual blog post, Bauer found “a true oasis” amidst the construction in Mission Bay. Despite being owned by the massive Bon Appetit food service company, the three-year-old restaurant has kept its SF bonafides by hiring former Public House chef Jorge Lumbreras, growing its produce in the on-site patio garden and hitting all the necessary menu highlights like charcuterie boards, pizzas and big main courses. “While I’ve had better at a dozen other places,” Bauer says, before getting sentimental, “nothing can compete with the view, the ambience and being immersed in the ever-growing community.”


Pearl

In the Richmond, Pete Kane found something to like around the clock at Pearl, the all-day cafe and bistro from the team behind Pizzetta 211. At breakfast it’s a toasted farro bowl or the wood-fired bagel with smoked salmon that stand out (although avocado toast and granola are “present and accounted for”). At brunch, the star is a “magnificent assemblage of lamb sausage,” spicy tomatoes and polenta called Eggs in Purgatory.

At dinner, Kane recommends starting with the soft egg before moving onto the “soft and luscious” handkerchief pasta in a sauce that “exhibited just the right amount of restraint” to create a “genuinely gratifying” sense of unity.


Nyum Bai

In the East Bay, Express critic Janelle Bitker joins the chorus of praise for Nyum Bai’s modern Cambodian cuisine. Chef Nite Yun recently landed on Eater’s Young Guns list and was named one of the Chronicle’s Rising Star chefs for 2018, and it’s easy to see why she’s “poised for national acclaim,” Bitker says. The proof is right there in the “hella Cambodian” machoo kroeung, the amok catfish in coconut curry, or the “shatteringly crispy” and “flawlessly executed” ginger fried chicken.


Nico

3228 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA

Nyum Bai

3340 East 12th Street, , CA 94601 (510) 500-3338 Visit Website

Pearl

6101 California Street, , CA 94121 (415) 592-9777 Visit Website

STEM Kitchen & Garden

499 Illinois Street, , CA 94158 (415) 915-1000 Visit Website

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