Just in time for Mourad Lahlou's appearance on Iron Chef America this weekend (coincidence?), The BauerHour revisits Aziza for the first time since dropping the tres on the Richmond favorite way back in 2002. As it turns out, a still-fresh Aziza has evolved quite well with age, hence the reason for an update; take it away, Mr. Bauer:
I can't think of another restaurant that has so transformed itself to come into its own. Lahlou always has had a modern take on Moroccan food, but in the last few years he's stepped it up ... Lahlou makes just about everything on site and employs many of the new techniques that have become the rage.
It's a grand time for Miketastic, and from cocktails to desserts, the restaurant impresses throughout, so it's a big promotion to the esteemed realm of 3.5 stars. Even more telling, however, might be the conclusion that Aziza's menu features "some of the most exciting food [he has] had in years." [Chron]
Nicholas Boer is the Chron sidekick this week, and he's got a pair of stars for Lafayette's unfortunately-spelled Knoxx: "[Chef Francesco Torre's] food, at its best, is rustic and refined, reflecting his Tuscan roots. When the food misses, as it did on my first visit, it is more in the execution than the concept. Overcooked lamb and fish are problems that Torre can fix." [Chron]
Paul Reidinger returns to Hard Knox Cafe, which as he points out, is ready to seize the day: "The ironist (a.k.a. yours truly) finds plenty to like at Hard Knox Café beyond the fried chicken and the Stella. There's the fact that such a value-driven spot should have opened a decade ago, at the golden crest of the Clinton boom, and gone on thriving across 10 topsy-turvy (mostly turvy) years, only to find itself perfectly positioned — and named — for what we can hope will be a new era of value." [SFBG]
Miss Meredith has mixed things to say about Baby Blues BBQ, with a lunch at the Venice offshoot going very smoothly. Sadly, dinner is a different story for The Brody: "But at an early dinner on a weeknight, the place felt like a totally different restaurant .... And then we waited. And waited. And waited, patiently, until we noticed that several tables that had come in after us were getting their food." [SFW]
THE ELSEWHERE: The EBX finds refuge from the winter at Alameda's Acquacotta, Bargain Bites highlightsAmanda's Feel Good Fresh Food in Berkeley, the Merc does BBQ at Gilroy's Famous Dave's, the PressDem is amused by Rocker Oysterfeller, and lest we forget, the Sunday Chron had two stars for the Embarcadero location of Perry's.