The Other Critics

Bauer Returns to Underwood in Graton; Hirsch Gets Sassed at Red Door Café; Tsai Visits the Lake Merritt Hotel

Michael Bauer returns to Underwood in Graton (near Guerneville) to give it a two-and-a-half-star update nine years after he first reviewed it in 2003. He’s still charmed by the historic saloon interior, saying it “gives you the sense that the food is going to be good.” He has a complaint about every dish he mentions, however, saying the pork dish had too much stuff piled on top and the “intensely smoky” trout salad is overdressed. But he likes the desserts and concludes, confusingly, “in the end, it was a satisfying meal.” [Chron]

Over at the Examiner, Jesse Hirsch heads to the Red Door Café, a popular brunch place in Pacific Heights that’s mostly known for its flamboyant, domineering, “eventually exhausting” owner and manager, A.D. Many love him and his relentless sass and sexual come-ons, and many are charmed by his posted rules at the twelve-seat restaurant (e.g. “No ‘ice water with lemon’ and no ‘just hot water.’ It is cheap, suburban and annoying.”), but Hirsch isn’t totally convinced. Neither would we be if we endured a lengthy wait for what was ultimately a three-hour brunch — who has that kind of time? Anyway, you go there because you think A.D. is entertaining, and maybe because you like the food. Hirsch ultimately enjoys the amusingly named dishes like the Park Your Wife and Taste My Salmon and the I’m Nothing But a Sloppy Vegetarian Whore. But yeah, exhausting. [Examiner]

At the Guardian, Virginia Miller offers up her take on the cocktails at Big and Rio Grande. Neither place has a menu, by the way. [SFBG]

And at the East Bay Express, Luke Tsai takes in the Terrace Room at the Lake Merritt Hotel, and god bless him. The view is nice (of the Oakland skyline and the lake) for what it’s worth. But the food is cruise-ship worthy, and the service is maddening. [EBX]

Bauer Returns to Underwood in Graton; Hirsch Gets Sassed at Red Door Café;