The Other Critics

Bauer Says Spoonbar is ‘Transformed’; Boer Calls Berkeley’s Revival Bar and Kitchen ‘Gutsy and Lively’; Miller Adores Maverick

One of the new dishes at Spoonbar.
One of the new dishes at Spoonbar. Photo: J. Barmann/Grub Street

Michael Bauer returns up north to Healdsburg this week with his update review of Spoonbar, the restaurant that opened at the H2 Hotel in 2010. He finds recently hired chef Louis Maldonado doing excellent work in the kitchen, saying he’s “transform[ed] the menu” and that the restaurant has suddenly becoming “one of my favorite destinations in Sonoma County.” He praises Maldonado’s talents for “brilliant” combinations of flavors, like a dish of compressed watermelon with keffir lime, and the glorious tribute to corn that we also loved, featuring a cigar of corn cake stuffed with corn mousse and garnished with fresh corn, paprika, and popcorn. In the end, he upgrades the place to three stars, a jump up from the disappointing two they started off with. [Chron, Earlier slideshow]

Nicholas Boer meanwhile gives us the first review the Chronicle has ever given to two-year-old Revival Bar + Kitchen, the second restaurant from Venus chef-owner Amy Murray in downtown Berkeley. It turns out Murray only took over as executive chef at Revival eight months ago, and he says Murray’s dishes are “gutsy and lively” and her “pristine” ingredients and “sensational produce.” He’s especially a fan of her goat merguez sausage served over risotto, and her calamari flatbread with squid-ink aioli. All told: two and a half stars. [Chron]

And over at the Guardian, Virginia Miller returns to seven-year-old Maverick and praises the work of newly promoted chef Emmanuel Eng. Like we were, she’s a fan of his lobster bread pudding with smoked cod, and she can’t say enough about the always stellar fried chicken. Also, she loves his presentation of burrata, and a dish of squash blossoms stuffed with salt-cod brandade, rosso bruno tomatoes, Calabrian chilis, and basil. She also enjoys owner Michael Pierce’s work with wine pairings, saying he’s “another key part of what makes Maverick special.” [SFBG]

Bauer Says Spoonbar is ‘Transformed’; Boer Calls Berkeley’s