With a new chef in tow, Fringale gets the dining update this week, but unfortunately, things aren't as rosy for the SoMa trailblazer that was once up on the three-star level. Not only is Aurelien Crosato struggling in balancing the menu between the classics and his own dishes, but simply put, service like this is going to leave a mark:
Service also wasn't as good as we remembered. When there are only a few tables in the place and the waiter has to ask who had what, it shows that the staff isn't engaged. As the server was putting down the main courses, he spilled a half-full glass of wine on my companion.
In the end though, it's the food that gets the lowest marks, be it from poor execution (calamari is "dry" and "rubbery") or regrettable concepts (out of season tomatoes are "anemic"). The saving grace is that Crosato has a strong pedigree, and will likely (hopefully) make the menu his own. But for now, Fringale gets demoted to two stars. [Chron]
Paul Reidinger tries out Tropisueno, the Yerba Buena restaurant that is a giant taco cart during the day and a cantina by night: "On the spectrum of urban cantina styles, Tropisueño falls somewhere in the neighborhood of Chevy's and Tres Agaves ... Whatever quibbles one might have about Chevy's, there's no denying the excellence of their chips, and Tropisueño's are every bit as good." Ceviche, empanadas and tacos all get high marks as well. [SFBG]
Pinch-hitting at the Weekly is Matthew Stafford, who bemoans the soul food options in this town, noting that "most of the eateries discussed in our last soul-food wrap-up 9 years ago have gone the way of the telephone booth." His soul food picks: Auntie April's Chicken n Waffles, farmerbrown, Hard Knox Cafe and Powell's. [SFW]
THE ELSEWHERE: The CoCo Times is the first to take a look at Sidebar in Oakland, the Trib ventures up to Nick's Cove, the Press Democrat finds Paris in Santa Rosa at Rendezvous Bistro, the EBX files on Berkeley's version of the SF Soup Company, the MIJ tackles Marin's latest Mexican newcomer in Sonoma Latina Grill, and back on this side of the water, Bay Area Bites gets an early look at Potrero's Pizza Nostra.