The Other Critics

Miller Applauds Maven; Jonathan Kauffman Loves the Dumplings at i-Skewers; Hirsch Has a Really Bad Time at Haven

Maven Photo: Brian Smeets/Grub Street

Today brings us the first real review of Maven, which opened in December in the former RNM space in the Lower Haight. Virginia Miller says the cocktails by bar manager Kate Bolton are balanced and “elegant,” and the dishes, from chef David Kurtz and sous chef Matt Brimer are “more interesting than they read on paper.” She especially likes the cocktail pairings with the braised fennel dish, and the Chinatown duck sliders. The only dish she can’t recommend is the Arctic char. [SFBG]

We’re thankful that Jonathan Kauffman helps us out by explaining that the questionably named i-Skewers (2407 Judah Street) was just trying to be hip in choosing the name, following on places like iThai and, like, the iPad. The Chinese name for the place is a little more straightforward: Skewers and Boiled Dumplings. And it’s owned by the same people who own Kingdom of Dumpling and King of Noodles. He says to stick to the dumplings and avoid both the skewers and all the other various menu items. But the pork with napa cabbage dumplings are excellent, as are the ones with pork, shrimp, and chives, both of which are a mere $6.95. [SF Weekly]

After a strong review from Jonathan Kauffman (and we pretty well liked the place too!), Haven hasn’t had the greatest week in reviews. First Michael Bauer kind of trashed the service and wasn’t in love with the food, and now the East Bay Express’s Jesse Hirsch concurs, and writes the worst review yet. He says that after attending a preview dinner last fall, “I thought I’d be yet another [Kim] Alter acolyte, filing a straight-A report card to post on her crowded fridge. Who could have predicted that I would walk away from Haven disappointed, dispirited, and baffled.” Hirsch’s anonymous visits yielded “sub-par service; sloppy mistakes; and ornate, fussy dishes that were less than the sum of their parts.” He had over-seasoned scallops, cold Arctic char, and he was totally unimpressed with Alter’s take on shepherd’s pie, calling it overpriced at $25. Alas, he concludes, though he may want to give them another shot in a few months, “it stings to be disappointed at price points so high.” [EBX]

Miller Applauds Maven; Jonathan Kauffman Loves the Dumplings at i-Skewers;