The Other Critics

Patti U. Burns Up at Pot Sticker; Bauer Revisits Flora for the Second Time This Year, Demotes It Further

Patricia Unterman notes that “In a city of Cantonese eateries, a new Sichuan restaurant becomes an event,” and thus she hightails it over to Pot Sticker, which although not new itself has a new chef who’s taken the menu in a decidedly more “incendiary” direction, toward the center of China. She advises most diners to ask for their dishes “mild,” and says she can barely stand “regular” grade heat here. She loves the boiled dumplings, the “pancake with couple’s delight,” and she says chef Truman Du’s cold cracked crab is the best Dungeness dish in town, but must be ordered ahead. She even goes so far as to recommend the cozy Chinatown restaurant for Christmas dinner. [Examiner]

You know Bauer’s feeling passionate when he checks back in on a restaurant he just wrote an updated review for in July, and publishes a second update just five months later. The restaurant in question is Flora, across from the Fox in Oakland, and the passion stems from the fact that the restaurant keeps raising its prices without improving its food. Bauer’s demotion of the place from three stars to two and a half this year arguably led to the departure of chef Chris Dettmer, who’d only started in April — Bauer felt like the upscaling of the menu was uneven, and he couldn’t abide by some red, sous-vide-then-roasted chicken. Now he returns to check out new chef Rico Rivera’s simplification of the menu, bringing with him the rustic sensibility of Pizzaiolo, but he finds “the prices, particularly for main courses, don’t reflect the more modest preparations.” Basically, he’s shocked at how fast the restaurant has jacked things up, with the grilled pork chop rising $8 in three years to $29, and none of the entrées besides the vegetarian one coming in under $25. And he’s none too impressed by what ended up on the plate, saying he was “shocked” by the paltry portion of fried chicken, some lumpy and overseasoned mashed potatoes, and a poorly presented farro salad. At three-star prices (and across the Bay no less), he clearly expects more, and he sends out a strong message just a few months later, downgrading the place to two stars, with one and a half for food. Ouchy. [Chron]

Patti U. Burns Up at Pot Sticker; Bauer Revisits Flora for the Second Time This