Bauer Still Digs Cupola; Boer Enjoys La Sen Bistro; Tsai Says Looks Are Deceiving at Assemble

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Photo: Grub Street

Despite being in a mall, and feeling pretty much like a mall restaurant inside, Cupola remains an above-average pizza place and totally worth a pitstop, says Mr. Bauer. He regularly recommends it to friends looking for a casual but decent place to eat near Union Square, and he says that chef Marc Tennison has done a good job keeping the menu fresh and broad. The pizza might be a little soggy in the center, but pretty much everything, from salads to a fava bean and ricotta bruschetta, are done with care. Also, the $30 tasting menu they still offer remains "one of the best deals in the city." Still, "It's too bad I have to apologize before recommending it," it being on the fourth floor of a mall, and all. The verdict: two and a half stars. [Chron]

And not to be confused with Mr. Bauer, colleague Nicholas Boer gets sent out to Concord on two-star duty to review La Sen Bistro, which morphed out of an all-you-can-eat sushi joint. He finds that Vietnamese owners Hai Tat Nguyen and partner Thanh Dinh are doing a pretty decent job with French bistro fare like steak frites, salade Nicoise, and French onion soup, though he says the coq au vin could use a little work. Overall, he says, the food is "traditional, yet neither tired nor expensive." And yep: two stars. [Chron]

Luke Tsai, meanwhile, spends some time at the new restaurant at the former Ford Assembly Plant in Richmond, called Assemble. The menu is self-consciously American, with a comfort food angle and things like Frito pie and mac-and-cheese on the menu. But all-in-all he finds "the food looked great on the plate, and everything was executed skillfully enough. But many of the dishes were strangely timid in the flavor department." [EBX]