For his weekly update, Baueriffic, better known as food critic Michael Bauer, returns to Press, the Wine Country spot last seen getting two stars upon opening a few years back. This time around, Leslie Rudd's wine-friendly restaurant seems to have found its stride:
Even though a meal can be more than $100 a person before tip - most steaks are $39 to $49, and sauces and sides are extra - it should be back in the mix of Napa Valley dining options ... That wine - particularly Cabernet - and Press is a culinary marriage made for the Napa Valley.
But Mikey Three Stars has more encouraging words for Press, pricey as it may be. The bar is churning out "some of the best cocktails in the valley" and the service is "among the most professional in the valley." That said, it's disconcerting that the place is a third-full during weekend dinner service, but a ringing endorsement—and an upgrade to the three-star plateau—from the most important voice in the area should provide a bump.
Riding shotgun this week in the Datebook is Carol Ness, who has two stars for Hayward's stylish but underachieving Bijou: "...the food, while ambitious in its French-style beurre blancs and reduction sauces and trendy in its small-plates emphasis and Asian inflections, often doesn't quite hit the level that will bring people back - especially now. ... This area deserves some big-city style, and Bijou has that to spare. With more focus and finesse, the food could get there, too."
Matthew Stafford fills in for Brody at the Weekly, and he finds some of the best bar food in the city at the Broken Record: "Chefs Katharine Zacher and Ryan Ostler, whose previous gigs have included Campton Place, Boulevard, and Quince, demonstrate their expertise with an impressive array of down-home booze-friendly snacks and platters that are as pleasing to the palate as they are satisfying to the belly."
Paul Reidinger files a double-review this week, finding a newfound focus on lunch at Stable Cafe and Luques Restaurant. While the former is a "haven of sunny serenity" in the Mission, the latter is a good option in Union Square: "Still, it did what a good lunch is supposed to do: satisfy without encumbering, so that when you leave the secret chamber you're still as fleet of foot and clear of mind as you rejoin the daily pageant."
THE ELSEWHERE: The PressDem chimes on Napa's new modern Indian joint Neela's, the CoCoTimes reviews the Cheesecake Factory for some reason, the EBX is at Berkeley falafel joint Chick-O-Pea's, the MIJ finds the "stereotypical Marin experience" at Larkspur's Table Cafe, Bar Bites is at Yountville's Brix, and the Sunday review had a deuce for Lalola.