Places like this often cool quickly, but Bar Bambino continues to endure - and to get even better ... The Italian-inspired food has found its groove under chef Elizabeth Binder; she's created an eclectic menu of light bites and heavy feasts designed to match many unusual wines on the well-selected list. Fortunately, when diners ask a wine-related question, there's always someone around to offer guidance, which is another reason this restaurant continues to reach a diverse and devoted audience ... It feels good to be here, being taken care of by the knowledgeable servers.And when The Bauer feels good, everyone feels good: Bambino gets boosted up to three star status, along with the following closing proclamation: "it's the real deal and should continue to thrive." [Chron]
Also handing out Chronicle stars today of her own is Carol Ness, who has a lofty 2.5 for Oakland's Franklin Square Wine Bar, silly: "It's no surprise that Franklin Square Wine Bar, in Oakland's hopping Uptown district, is a swell place to knock back a glass of fancy French Condrieu or a modest Dry Creek Grenache. That's what wine bars are for, silly, and Franklin offers 36 wines by the glass in a wide range of prices ($6-$29) and styles. But even people who aren't into wine, or aren't drinking that night, won't feel left out because the food - mainly small plates, salads and sandwiches - is fun, inventive, made from sterling ingredients and generally delicious." [Chron]
Meredith Brody is the first big reviewer to take a crack at Nettie's Crab Shack, the largely-crabless inhabitant of the (still?) cursed Palmetto/Home/etc. space on Union Street: "When is a crab shack not a crab shack? Well, maybe when it's a rather elegant, well-lit, spacious, and comfortable restaurant whose regular menu offers just two dishes featuring crab (neither requiring the use of mallets), and whose most successful dishes include lightly cooked Arctic char ... In fact, the most delicious things we tried over two meals ... were the smashing (in more ways than one) cocktails." [SFW]
Whilst pondering the linoleum purgatory of the neighborhood Chinese restaurant, Paul Reidinger showers high praise on Kathy's California Chinese Cuisine: "Most of the food has a familiar north-China look, although there is the occasional wrinkle, such as red dumplings ... Our intel source, a local, suggested that we would find the walnut prawns ($10.95) exceptional. Since I have never found walnut prawns exceptional, I was prepared to be disappointed. But ... Kathy's walnut prawns are exceptional!" [SFBG]
THE ELSEWHERE: SFist shares some thoughts from the soft opening at Gitane, The EBX does tamales at Flacos the CoCo Times tried out the new Chow in Danville, the PressDem is at Petulama's Hombres, the Merc takes its turn at Miss Pearl's, La Hopstress gets herself to The Sentinel, and Sunday's Bauer review was notable one, handing out two stars to Miss Pearl's Jam House.
[Photo: Flickr/kuo waters]
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