Michael Bauer heads to 1990s Bay Area favorite Le Colonial once again. The results–a 1.5-star review–are mixed, but Bauer reinforces his affinity for upscale Asian restaurants by affirming Le Colonial’s omnipresent appeal in the face of its shortcomings:
The best part about the experience was the ambience. The interior feels like a French plantation home in Vietnam. It was obvious people were having a good time. While the food may no longer be transporting, the surroundings certainly are.
All in all, if you want to see magnificent staircases and indoor palm trees (!), head to the tiny alley off Union Square. At the very least, you’ll have a good time and decent food; just don’t count on a transcendent meal.
Earlier in the week, Bauer did cartwheels over Napa’s Go Fish. Cindy Pawlcyn’s restaurant represents the upscale sushi destination that everyone knew was coming to the wine country; however, as Bauer points out, Pawlcyn decided to go above and beyond sushi, including ” just about every iconic permutation of seafood imaginable–West Coast oyster bar, classic Asian sushi bar, East Coast-inspired clam shack.” Getting high marks: the salt-encrusted prawns (“so expertly fried we could eat them shell and all”) and a modern take on fish and chips, fried smelt and shoestring potatoes.
Elsewhere in reviews, Meredith Brody takes a lesson in geography and tackles the only Istrian restaurant on the West Coast, North Beach’s Albona Ristorante Istriano. Classic ambience and cuisine make Albona a delight:
Albona is located on a quiet residential block, seemingly worlds, rather than a few streets, away from the bustle of both North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf. Inside, the simple room also feels timeless … It’s the kind of room I could see James Joyce, a famous resident of Trieste, dining at in the 1920s. Almost every table in the snug room was occupied; I loved the big round table we got, near the steps that led up to a small pantry, beyond which you can glimpse the steamy kitchen.
Brody also waxes poetic on the nature of Istrian cuisine, a hybrid of Italian traditions and Germo-Hungarian comfort food. She basically has the same reaction to Albona that we have to her review: a pleasant feeling of surprise that an undiscovered gem could actually exist in North Beach.
The SF Bay Guardian sends L.E. Leone out to Papalote Mexican Grill; Leone can’t understand why a Mexican place would not have carnitas. The carne asada, though, is heavenly. The soyrizio (shockingly), not so much.
Just in time for the upcoming nice weather, San Francisco magazine gives us the five best beer destinations in the Bay Area, while The Contra Costa Times makes us pine for a European springtime with its review of Concord’s The Mediterranean.