Digesting The Reviews: No More Pearly Whites

In some ways, restaurant reviews are like reality shows: a good deal of entertainment is garnered from conflict!

Compared to some other high-profile reviewers, our Michael Bauer is pretty tame with his negative output (Tres Agaves aside). He rarely blasts restaurants to showcase his writing flair; rather, we feel he offers fair, constructive criticism in most cases (much to our chagrin). Or perhaps he doesn’t visit a lot of disaster restaurants (if you’re looking for some, Mike, we’ve got some tips…).

So it’s with great pleasure that we present Bauer’s (re)visit to Oakland’s Pearl Oyster Bar. First reviewed in 2004, POB’s been swirling with rumors of decline with the recent chef shuffle, so naturally, Bauer had to investigate. Here are some of the lowlights:

• the poke: “clunky, with big cubes of over-marinated big-eye tuna on a bed of equally coarse cucumber.”

• arctic char: “tasted mostly like salt”

• grilled flatbread: the crust had a ” raw, floury quality”

• flat-iron steak: “looked like a gray hockey puck without a bit of pink in the center”

• chocolate pot de creme: “turned out to resemble thick, chilled frosting”

In all fairness, there were many standout dishes and the prices (“a great value considering the surroundings”) are more than doable. Unfortunately, the end result of the lackluster experiences is a star slashing for the Rockridge seafood joint: from a trio of stars to a lonely pair. [SFGate]

More reviews post-jump:

Meredith Brody indulges in the wonder that is the izakaya at Hime Restaurant. She gives a little background on izakayas, since San Francisco seems to have a puzzling paucity of the Japanese sake bars, and then goes to town on the extensive Japanese menu:

It offers almost any kind of Japanese food you’ve heard of, more than most izakaya have on offer, including ippin ryori (small plates, often called “Japanese tapas”), yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), kushiyaki (grilled meat and vegetable skewers), tempura, donburi (a variety of ingredients served over rice), udon (noodles), tofu, salads, and bento boxes that artfully combine several of these dishes.

Anyone who’s been to an izakaya knows there’s an absolute cornucopia of delicious-sounding dishes to choose from, so we like to go in groups to sample as much as possible. Plus, it’s fun to soak up the sake that way. [SF Weekly]

Rounding up the rest of the lil dogies: Madame Tablehopper gets in deep at Laiola, The Guardian goes trendy at Sudachi, The Chronicle enjoys its outing to Kensington’s Post Meridian and Chowhounds track a mysterious Korean BBQ truck.

Digesting The Reviews: No More Pearly Whites