Today, the Tower of Bauer revisits Viognier, the San Mateo destination where one Gary Danko first made his name. These days, Viognier finds itself under the helm of the talented Preston Dishman, and despite some rough edges—it's a fine dining restaurant in an upscale supermarket after all—there's an awful lot to like:
...for the most part, Dishman seems to have given a much-needed boost to the Viognier kitchen. He's a chef with chops, who also knows how to cook a great chop. Viognier is worth checking out now, and it may prove to be even better in the months to come.
Though the starters are acceptable, MB saves his most glowing words for the main courses, from the quail ("pitch-perfect") to the halibut ("a dish that looks and tastes as fresh as spring"). Even though desserts manage to fall short, MB approves of the overall experience, and thus, Viognier is upgraded from its prior deuce to a more robust 2.5 stars. [Chron]
Meredith Brody sets her sights on Heaven's Dog, and she's not a fan: "We were less entranced with the food we sampled over two visits: Each time, we preferred the appetizers to the large plates by quite a bit, and the noodle dishes were almost shockingly disappointing ... The ingredients are left to speak for themselves, but I'd like more layered, nuanced flavors and spicing. It's comfort food that's a little too comfortable." [SFW]
Paul Reidinger goes for a flashy Asian restaurant this week too, reviewing Grand Pu Bah, where poultry theatrics steal the show, at least momentarily: "The server, after muttering a few cautionary words (or perhaps a prayer), emptied a small tumbler of some kind of liquor over the chicken (actually a game hen) — I thought I heard '151' and 'tequila' — lit a match, and set my dinner gloriously ablaze ... When the flame finally died out, the bird had a crisp-crinkly golden skin as impressive as that of any roast chicken in town." [SFBG]
THE ELSEWHERE: The EBX unearths decent 'cue at Smokey Blues Bar-Be-Que in Oakland, the MIJ revisits Tiburon Grill, the CoCo Times goes out to Antioch for Cocina Medina, the Merc has fancy salads at Palo Alto's Sprout Cafe, the PressDem stops by downtown Napa's popular Angele, Bar Bites is at Yoshi's this week, Novato's Sonoma Latin Grill gets relegated to Bargain Bites, and finally, the Sunday Chron review was a two-star affair at Oakland's Sidebar.