The Other Critics

Kauffman Meanders Through Fifth Floor’s ‘Global Souk’; Reidinger Tastes ‘Astounding’ Mayo at Straw

Dining at Fifth Floor
Dining at Fifth Floor Photo: Virginia Miller, The Perfect Spot

In today’s review, Jonathan Kauffman says that although “the moment does not belong to the hotel restaurant,” Fifth Floor in the Palomar Hotel, is an exception. David Bazirgan has received loads of praise since he came on board as chef. Kauffman falls in line, waxing eloquent about “exquisitely balanced” lobster agnolotti. He notes: “Bazirgan’s food meanders through a global souk, picking up spices and herb blends from dozens of stalls.” In comparison to Benu, Coi, and Commis, Kauffman comments, “I didn’t always sense the same intuitive brilliance in Bazirgan’s food… but the food displays excellent technique and a wide-ranging intelligence.” He claims in an attempt to lure in more locals, “Fifth Floor’s PR wing has been emitting releases about the chef’s lounge menu with the frequency of Kardashian tweets,” but confirms that the $25 special is a standout: small-batch bourbon, pint of beer, and a burger, which he deems “one of the best” in town. [SF Weekly]

Paul Reidinger hightails it to Straw in Hayes Valley for “playful plates.” Calling Straw “a throwback from 1995” due to its scruffiness and optimism, Reidinger digs the “fried stuff,” like mini-corn dogs, but is equally pleased with grilled cobs of corn and bacon and apple mac ‘n’ cheese (“a nice little crock of Americana”). He deems the menu “vegetarian-friendly” with tomato soup, pretzel bites, salads, samba on subuco (“festively joined chunks of butternut squash and eggplant in… coconut-milk curry broth reminiscent of many a hormak talay in Thai restaurants”). Though he says the latter dish “succeeded,” it is “despite the eggplant, which managed to be both rubbery and mushy.” Creamy grits laden with prawns, linguica, and green filet beans particularly impress, “like a tile taken from the palace of an Ottoman pasha,” though the “picadilly goes east” entrée does less so: “I wonder if a fish as marvelous as ahi tuna needs to be turned into fish sticks… The accompanying mayonnaise was astounding, however.” [SFBG]

Kauffman Meanders Through Fifth Floor’s ‘Global Souk’; Reidinger