The Other Critics

Bauer Blesses Bar Agricole With a Whopping Three Stars; Patti U. Is Won Over By Gracias Madre

The newly open front patio at Bar Agricole.
The newly open front patio at Bar Agricole. Photo: Chron

Mr. Bauer remains confused by the new crop of cocktail-centric bar-restaurants like Hog & Rocks, Comstock Saloon, and the subject of his Sunday review, Bar Agricole. But he is thoroughly impressed with the food side of things from chef Brandon Jew, at least the savory dishes: “It’s a menu that sounds fairly straightforward, but Jew is able to coax beautiful flavors out of his ingredients.” Also: “The food is certainly unlike anything you expect to see in a bar or, as the owners refer to it, a ‘contemporary tavern.’” He adores the lardo, and says the sand dabs, “expertly filleted tableside and served with brown butter and fleshy purslane,” were one of the best examples of a sand dab dish that he’d ever had. And sucker for cocktails that he is, Bauer calls Thad Vogler’s drinks “spectacular.” The desserts, though, disappointed him a bit, which brings us to our surprise at the three stars — which is pretty much the highest honor a casual restaurant like this can hope for. [Chron]

Patti U. says she entered vegan Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre a “militant omnivore… with a chip on my shoulder.” But she ultimately she walks away a convert, and finds it to be “an unqualified culinary success,” calling the verenjena con queso fundido “rich and voluptuous,” and saying that empanadas, “perched on a smoldering hot roasted tomato sauce, reconfirmed how naturally the Mexican pantry takes to vegan cooking.” [Examiner]

And at the Merc, Jennifer Graue heads to Wayfare Tavern, where she’s a little sad not to see the famed Tyler Florence in the kitchen but writes “Chef de Cuisine Mike Thiemann quite capably turns out the comfort-food classics.” She calls the fried chicken “phenomenal” and that she “inhaled” the poutine. There were a few issues with the proteins, though. She says the tri-tip “had plenty of deep flavor, but a few bites were too chewy” and that the duck, which was supposed to be medium-rare, came out “blue rare and was nearly impossible to cut.” But, she concludes, “generally the food is good, the service is gracious and the atmosphere is warm and inviting.” [Mercury News]

Bauer Blesses Bar Agricole With a Whopping Three Stars; Patti U. Is Won Over By