The Other Critics

Roth Is Only Half Fond of Wine Kitchen; Bauer Calls Madrona Manor ‘a Poor Man’s Meadowood’; Boer Likes Juhu Beach Club

Wine Kitchen
Wine Kitchen Photo: Grub Street

Anna Roth at the Weekly gives a first review to Divisadero wine bar Wine Kitchen, which opened back in January. She finds a few things to like, especially the wine selection, the gnocchi dish, and the orange-chocolate pudding. But she finds the crowd a bit tiresome and bougie, and the space itself “strangely soulless.” [SF Weekly]

Michael Bauer hits up longtime Sonoma stalwart Madrona Manor for an update review this week, and he says that chef Jesse Mallgren, there since 1999, remains “one of the Bay Area’s most underrated chefs.” Bauer’s dining companion calls the place, with its lush garden-side setting in Healdsburg, “like a poor man’s Meadowood,” but the prices aren’t for too poor a man (five courses for $159 including pairings; ten courses for $234 with pairings). He’s impressed with the lavish amuse bouches, and the finely tuned food that comes in category-labeled courses like “Clean/Crisp” (a mackerel filet with gin-infused panna cotta and juniper berries), and “Smooth” (sauteed John Dory with baby artichokes, green garlic and kombu). All told he gives the place three stars, but says that the one way that it can’t compare to other high-end restaurants is the service, which he notes is fairly unpolished, and “It’s almost as if they are pretending because no one has taught them the whys and wherefores of good service.” [Chron]

And Nicholas Boer at the Chron is on two-star duty this week, and he covers Preeti Mistry’s Juhu Beach Club in Oakland. He says the place is, inarguably, “fun,” and he loves Mistry’s Indian-spiced take on Cracker Jacks, dubbed desi jacks; the fried paneer puffs; and the grilled beet-potato-cheese sandwich dubbed the Bombay Sandwich, which he names as his favorite menu item. He’s a bit overwhelmed with some of the spice, and doesn’t much care for the sulphur-y black salt that’s popular in India and that Mistry is convinced Americans are ready for. And he says you can skip the vindaloo chicken wings. Service is buoyant and the servers’ enthusiasm is “infectious,” and overall he sounds fond of the place. [Chron]

Roth Is Only Half Fond of Wine Kitchen; Bauer Calls Madrona Manor ‘a Poor