Bauer Still Digs Cupola; Boer Enjoys La Sen Bistro; Tsai Says Looks Are Deceiving at Assemble

The view from inside Cupola, which looks out on the Westfield Centre.
The view from inside Cupola, which looks out on the Westfield Centre. Photo: Grub Street

Despite being in a mall, and feeling pretty much like a mall restaurant inside, Cupola remains an above-average pizza place and totally worth a pitstop, says Mr. Bauer. He regularly recommends it to friends looking for a casual but decent place to eat near Union Square, and he says that chef Marc Tennison has done a good job keeping the menu fresh and broad. The pizza might be a little soggy in the center, but pretty much everything, from salads to a fava bean and ricotta bruschetta, are done with care. Also, the $30 tasting menu they still offer remains “one of the best deals in the city.” Still, “It’s too bad I have to apologize before recommending it,” it being on the fourth floor of a mall, and all. The verdict: two and a half stars. [Chron]

And not to be confused with Mr. Bauer, colleague Nicholas Boer gets sent out to Concord on two-star duty to review La Sen Bistro, which morphed out of an all-you-can-eat sushi joint. He finds that Vietnamese owners Hai Tat Nguyen and partner Thanh Dinh are doing a pretty decent job with French bistro fare like steak frites, salade Nicoise, and French onion soup, though he says the coq au vin could use a little work. Overall, he says, the food is “traditional, yet neither tired nor expensive.” And yep: two stars. [Chron]

Luke Tsai, meanwhile, spends some time at the new restaurant at the former Ford Assembly Plant in Richmond, called Assemble. The menu is self-consciously American, with a comfort food angle and things like Frito pie and mac-and-cheese on the menu. But all-in-all he finds “the food looked great on the plate, and everything was executed skillfully enough. But many of the dishes were strangely timid in the flavor department.” [EBX]