SANF January, 2012 : Page 84

eats Fremont Diner Road food gets an upgrade. Sonoma Gaumenkitzel A taste of Bavaria brightens the East Bay. Berkeley Bottle Cap An old-school tavern takes a fresh turn. north Beach san FranCisCO January 2012 The often resurrected Washing-ton Square Bar & Grill has finally died for good, and Dane Boryta, most recently of Sens, and his wife, Liz Ferro, have taken on the space, bringing to it Boryta’s own brand of American cuisine. The vague-ness of that term, and the hodge-podge on the menu, which ranges from cheese-and-mushroom-stuffed pierogi to roasted Muscovy duck in vanilla-merlot sauce, has you bracing for a night of chaos. But Boryta keeps his flavors focused. Fried chicken thighs with a bright dill-yogurt dip are like happy hour snacks for picky pal-ates. Braised pork shoulder with apples, brussels sprouts, and mus-tard seeds is a humble cut beauti-fully dressed for winter. And those flaky-caked pierogi, served with purple cabbage and pearl onions, in a dill-scented broth, are a babushka’s signature, rewritten by a sure-handed chef. The setting is your grandmother’s idea of hip, with pale green walls and robin’s egg–blue tables, but the amiable service and Boryta’s able cooking keep the restaurant up-to-date. 1707 powell st. (at columbus ave.), s.F., 415-529-2237 $$ rw If Alice Waters had had her culinary awakening in Baton Rouge instead of Brittany, she might have created a restaurant like the Fremont Diner. Located off the Carneros Highway south of Sonoma, the country-casual spot serves a menu of Southern-fried American classics with ingre-dients exuberantly sourced from local farms, ranches, waters, and wineries. Order at one of the unfinished farmhouse tables, or grab a stool at the tidy counter in front of the kitchen and watch the bacon sizzle and the oysters fry. To handle weekend crowds, there’s ample outdoor seating at shaded picnic benches. The not unpleasant tangy aroma of a near-by dairy scents the air. Behind the restaurant, a chicken pasture and vegetable gardens give way to roll-ing vineyards. Breakfast options include black pepper brisket hash, a Hangtown fry, and excellent bis-cuits and gravy. Lunch means a Reuben sandwich with house-cured pastrami; chicken and waf-fles; or a chubby, blue-ribbon burger. There are cakes and pies, of course, but the milkshakes, with flavors like salted caramel, Ovaltine, and horchata, steal the show. Portions are hearty, but don’t worry if you can’t finish. The pigs out back will eat what you don’t. 2698 Fremont dr. (bet. Knob hill rd. and carneros hwy.), 707-938-7370 $ w To a lonely stretch of San Pablo Avenue that has long been low on umlauts and most everything else, Kai Flache and Anja Voth have brought knackwürste, bratwürste, gruyère-enriched spätzle, and other dishes whose proper spell-ing requires the option key. Hus-band and wife both hail from Hamburg, where they know from comfort cooking. Hence a wintry starter of baked butternut squash with a snow-white dusting of melt-ed feta—a belly-warming prelude to roulades, the braised ribbons of beef wrapped around red cabbage with a vinegary kick. No matter what the entrée—pork-loin schnit-zel in a crackling coating or crisp parsnip-and-oat cakes that taste like healthful latkes—there’s a lot of heart in this hearty cooking, and the kitchen’s care comes through in tiny touches, like a side of roasted carrots delivered in a painstakingly symmetrical dice. The dining room is large and despite its homey details—wood tables, thick cloth napkins, dis-plays of jam and bottled beer— feels a bit outsize for the restau-rant’s otherwise intimate inten-tions. More than the decor, the sweetness of the service and the buttery smell of Voth’s beautiful pastries lend Gaumenkitzel its cozy feel. 2121 san pablo ave. (bet. addison and allston sts.), 510-647-5016 $$ w Our review pOliCy: To ensure that we get a typical consumer’s experi-ence in a restaurant, our writers dine anonymously; all expenses are paid by the magazine. Reviews are pulled from our listings two years after the review date or any time personnel changes at a restaurant render a review invalid. Our admittedly imperfect star ratings are based on food quality, variety, service, ambience, and value. Staff reviewers and contrib-utors to our restaurant guide include John Birdsall, Susan Bryan, Stett Holbrook, Rachel Levin, Jan Newberry, Josh Sens, and Lisa Trottier. CheCk baCk eaCh MOnth for a new selection of reviews. You can search our entire database of reviews at . prices: Average price of an entrée: $ = $10 or less $$ = $11–17 $$$ = $18–24 $$$$ = $25 or more symbols: c = Cash only d = Dinner only r = Reservation required/ recommended v = Valet parking w = Wheelchair accessible = Staff favorite = Cheap eats HH HH by JOsh sens by stett hOlbrOOk ratings: HHHH = superlative HHH = excellent HH = very good H = good ✩ = below average HH ½ by JOsh sens photograph by nader Khouri 84

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