Brandon Watson at The Chronicle visits the Congress Ave fine dining/tasting room counter Counter 3. Five. VII's, which he dings for an "overly festooned name," but grudgingly admits it does serve a purpose in explaining the restaurant's unique innovative concept. Watson liked that the Counter 3. Five. VII crew understand "that fine dining is about making people feel special." On his seven course experience:
The first salvo of chicken gelee refreshed with an unexpected celery. Kocurek's charcuterie skills (and the pickled quail eggs) re-emerged with a pâté de campagne using foie gras instead of pork. Then came some virtuosic work. The trumpet mushroom sang of lime, the slow-cooked egg forgetting to be a culinary cliche. The intriguing wild boar has a cardamom gastrique and a carrot purée, but bitter carrot ash removed any treacle. The striped bass was superlative.
Also for The Chronicle this week, Mick Vann visits Guantanamera Cuban Cuisine where the "top-notch" Spanish-style gin and tonics, big-portioned "meat and three [sides]" lunch meals and their El Cubano Sandwich-- "one of the better versions in town"--win him over. On the lunch entrees he has tried:
Masas fritas ($9) are chunks of mojo criollo-marinated pork fried in lard, golden outside and succulent within. Lechon asado ($9.50) gets the same marinade and hours in a slow oven until it gets so tender it melts in your mouth. Pollo al horno ($9) is a marinated chicken leg quarter that is roasted with onion and red bell peppers, turning it moist and juicy. Ropa vieja (9.50) has the tenderest shreds of beef, bathed in a rich sauce of tomato, olives, and spices.
— Sofia Sokolove
Last week, The Chronicle’s Brandon Watson was surprised by how uncrowded Lucky’s Puccias and Pizzeria’s new brick and mortar was during his visits. Although the decor left something to be desired, the famed puccia sandwiches were on the menu. The new puccias and pizzas were mostly good, but desserts really shined:
We weren't prepared to be impressed when the ready-made sweets came out of a cooler. And we were a bit perplexed when there was then a slight wait from counter to table. But the $6 moulleux au chocolate (a molten lava cake when it's feeling a bit more populist) came out with toasted almonds and a piped plume of whipped cream to one side of the rectangular plate and a beautiful striated snail of sauce in the other. We simply did not expect such plating and composition at a fast casual place (the taste – though nothing new – was on point, too). The salted caramel pot de crème ($6) wasn't quite as showy, but the brûléed flavor carried no twinge of regret.
THE BLOGS: The Smoking Ho reviewed now James Beard winner Aaron Franklin's barbecue book, Foodie is the New Forty stopped by Shake Shack, Burger Mary loves the simple, authentic fare of Taqueria Chapala on Cesar Chavez, South Austin Foodie tried the lunch offerings at La Patisserie, and Mike Sutter made a gordita stop at La Gordita Loca along his taco expedition.
— Nadia Chaudhury