The Other Critics

Kauffman Gives State Bird a Qualified Rave; Matthews Reviews Tacolicious; Honor Bar Is ‘Insanely Good’

State Bird Provisions's custom serving cart.
State Bird Provisions’s custom serving cart.

Jonathan Kauffman is mostly impressed with State Bird Provisions (1529 Fillmore Street), especially the food being served by chefs Stuart Brioza and his pastry-focused wife, Nicole Krasinsky. “The restaurant hasn’t quite grown into its format yet,” he writes, “but at its best, the food is among the most intuitive cooking happening in San Francisco.” He loves a bite of guanciale with avocado and pomelo; an Asian-inflected, pan-fried trout fillet; and the classic combo of potato chips with steelfish roe and crème fraiche. He notes that the crowd is young and sophisticated, and “the soundtrack is 100 percent Pitchfork-approved.” But there were a few service issues, which he said improved over his three visits, including some confusion about who the main server for one’s table even is, with so much dim-sum-style flurry going on. And, he adds, “The complexity of the dishes was sometimes undercut by their small size and the fast-moving progress of the meal.” But all in all, he sounds pretty pleased. [SF Weekly, Bauer’s earlier take]

Over at the Chron, Allen Matthews is assigned to Tacolicious duty in the Mission, and he finds “the kitchen delivers the same quality and flavor” as at the Marina location. He likes that they’ve spread about the same number of seats over a much larger space, and the short-rib taco is still “a standout.” But much as Grub Street has discovered on several visits, it’s really easy to order too much stuff, and the tacos are bigger you think they’ll be. “Unless you’ve got a ridiculous appetite, one snack, two tacos and possibly a side, along with the constant resupply of the freshly made chips from La Palma tortillas and house-made salsa, are more than enough for two to split and feel full.” Well, maybe we’re pigs, but we usually have two tacos by ourselves. Anyway, Matthews awards them two and a half stars. [Chron]

After several years in business, some chef changes, and a recent change in bar management, Gitane remains, “one of the sexiest spots in all of SF, [and] is still a drink-worthy location,” writes Virginia Miller. She’s also still a big fan of chef Bridget Batson’s food. And she’s impressed with the new, rotating cocktail list by bar manager Ramon Garcia, who has worked under both the previous bar managers, and maintains “its continued sherry focus, [and] its gypsy spirit (Gitane means gypsy, after all).” [SFBG]

And across the Bay, Jesse Hirsch visits Babette, the newish museum café at the Berkeley Art Museum. He finds the “rustic, seasonal, locally sourced menu is perfectly suited for a major Berkeley institution,” and the food strikes the perfect balance of lightness and satisfaction for a museum café. But so far, though they’ve been lousy with students on weekdays, they’re kind of empty on weekends, because museum-goers don’t seem to be aware that the place is there. [EBX]

Also, Ellen Cushing at the East Bay Express hits up the recently opened Honor Bar in Emeryville (411 Powell Street), and says it’s “already insanely good — by far the best reason to go to Emeryville right now.” She says the cocktails are “are uniformly among the best I’ve had in a very long time,” and she raves about the fries and the bone marrow entrée too. [EBX]

Kauffman Gives State Bird a Qualified Rave; Matthews Reviews Tacolicious; Honor