Bauer Let Down by Bistro Aix; Hirsch Pleasantly Surprised by Pacific Catch
The latest restaurant reviews are a lesson in expectations, with Jesse Hirsch of the Examiner stating it best, "There’s nothing like misplaced expectations to muck everything up."
Michael Bauer at the Chron thought his last two visits to Bistro Aix, one of his top 100 Bay Area restaurants, was a "bit disappointing" and missing the "exacting skill that made it so compelling in the past." While the "food is still good" at the Marina restaurant, he found the chicory salad to be under-salted, the tarte Tatin under-baked, the tenderloin skewers under-marinated, and the hamburger under-seasoned. However, the haricot verts were "precisely cooked" and the persimmon pudding was a "good seasonal soother." He also noted the staff seemed "somewhat taxed" and ends the review with the summary, "Bistro Aix is still a good neighborhood restaurant that deserves to remain popular, but it's missing that extra spark that made it special." Ouch. Verdict: two and a half stars. [Chron]
While Hirsch admits "chain restaurants rarely make it on [his] radar," he couldn't help but check out the "massive, hokey-looking" Pacific Catch in the Inner Sunset after being told it was "much better than it looked." With such expectations, he was disappointed by the "spiritless" Dungeness crab dumplings, "tasteless batter" of the Baja fish tacos, and the Thai curry and Korean barbecue bowls which were "pale, ersatz replicas of their respective cuisines." Still, he encountered pleasant surprises, including the Japanese wasabi rice bowl, which achieved "harmony amongst the dish’s many elements," and the Peruvian ceviche with a "seriously grown-up kick." In the end, he reflected that "even the lesser food outperformed most chains, and a few items were unequivocally good." [Examiner]