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9 Overrated Bay Area Restaurants - Wow....

(not sure if this thread should go here or in Food Media & News...)


I can see their point on almost all of these, to a certain extent.... but Incanto? and it got the most votes for most overrated? who did they piss off? (everyone who voted, it appears.)

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  1. A lot of people complained about the service, which I've always thought was great.

    It may just be poor timing since Cosentino just won Top Chef Masters and the restaurant is getting a lot of attention.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bluex

      The source for the story is 77 comments, about half of them anonymous, on an Eater post. Garbage in, garbage out.

      1. re: bluex

        The service at Incanto when I went was expertly done. Very friendly, informative and intuitive about when to check back. I thought the food was well executed (though I liked the food at Flour + Water, Locanda and Cotogna slightly better - I also am not someone who eats a lot of tripe etc. so that could explain my preferences).

      2. Because if there's anyone I trust to marry statistical rigor with good taste, it's EaterSF and their commenters.

        1. I'd agree with them on a couple - haven't tried them all, since we moved out of the city two decades ago and don't come back that often. But Slanted Door I've always thought was overrated - it's a bar with cleaned-up food, not even Viet banquet food actually. A number of years ago we had the privilege of attending several Vietnamese banquets, including one cooked specially for our group by a wonderful older man who had once been a high-ranking South Vietnamese diplomat. Stunning meal, akin to a true Chinese banquet but with French touches. We actually prefer the Viet food at Lin Jia/Oakland or Nong Thon/El Cerrito to Slanted Door. But SD does have fabulous tea - properly made always, whether hot or iced.

          Haven't been back to Chez Panisse after a beautiful but fairly tasteless meal, also a while back. Did have dinner at the CP Cafe and was frankly appalled. The vegetarian entree mistook boring for subtle. The best dish was the fettucine with meatballs - not exactly the food that made CA famous.

          6 Replies
          1. re: jaiko

            I've been lukewarm to Slanted Door at the Ferry Building. Recent lunches at Out the Door on Bush near Fillmore have me singing its praises. I loved their Bánh xèo.

            1. re: Cynsa

              same here - tepid at best. i liked Out the Door at the mall, too. a shame it's closed.

              1. re: mariacarmen

                another ditto. Out the Door at Westfield Mall was a convenient spot for a rendezvous.

                1. re: mariacarmen

                  Why did it close? The place was bustling each of the last few times I'd been there, and the food was great.

                2. re: Cynsa

                  Totally agree. OTD Bush has everything good about Slanted Door with a more comfortable dining room and a better vibe. I haven't done a side-by-side comparison of the menus, but I always leave OTD feeling good.

              2. House of Nanking didn't make the list. They were robbed.

                I would have put green's on the list, too.

                1. I doubt Incanto actually got the most votes especially considering how often Mission Chinese and Flour & Water were mentioned in the comments.

                  1. I think with Cosentino spending more time developing his television celebrity-chef status, the restaurant *has* slipped a bit over the years. I have gotten significantly better meals from Incanto when he is in the kitchen. When he is out doing Media Stuff, I have noticed the cuisine suffers for it...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                      That's been my experience too (less attention to the details when Cosentino isn't there) but I still think that it's not overrated as I still prefer the food and service more than other hyped restaurants and never had a bad meal there is the years of going.

                    2. Who or what is a "Carolyn Alburger"?

                      How can The Stinking Rose be overrated when it isn't even rated?

                      Gary Danko, Chez Panisse can't be overrated or underestimated.

                      Slanted Door can only be overrated by those whom do not understand it, ditto for Incanto.

                      Ton Kiang could be called many things and maybe for dim sum it is overrated, but I don't think so. When it comes to Hakka cuisine however, it underrated.

                      Never been to Baretta or Burma Super and never heard of Boogaloos and probably for good reason, "gravy" and "vegetarian" don't belong in the same sentence.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: scottca075

                        Boogaloos is hipster central here in the Mission, and always has long lines on weekend mornings. i think their food is just fine.

                        1. re: mariacarmen

                          OMG boogaloos is the worst well.. the food. service can actually be fun. but it cannot hold a candle to Kate's Kitchen for a dive-y breakfast that actually tastes good.

                          1. re: emmaheel1

                            i like Kate's - but i've had good dishes at boogaloos. i like that they have a few different options than other bfast restaurants do, like the plantain cake, the herbed "gravy", the black beans, tamarind sour cream, the polenta....

                            1. re: emmaheel1

                              I hadn't realized Boogaloos was "a thing." They had a pop-up brunch at Parada 22 in the Haight before the summer, and according to their website still have it. No crowds to deal with and they have their tower of spuds and other items. I thought the food was fine, but Magnolia is my top choice for brunch in that neighborhood by a long shot.

                              1. re: emmaheel1

                                kate's kitchen is my favorite divey breakfast spot.

                                that being said, i actually think the food at boogaloo's is good - just not worth waiting in line for - but then again, most places aren't. i think it's still better than brenda's or mama's or zazie, although not as good as dottie's

                            2. re: scottca075

                              carolyn is a terrific food writer. she juggles knowing a bunch about a lot of food stuff, but never has claimed to be an expert. She mostly "culls" from other sources and does it well. and she's bloody well nice, which, in the age of self-absorbed bloggers is quite refreshing.

                              1. re: emmaheel1

                                I don't know what "juggles knowing a bunch about a lot of food stuff" means. She may be very nice, but it's become clear from reading more Eater posts than I care to admit that she really doesn't bother to do her homework. "Culls from other sources" is a nice way of saying she aggregates other, more useful blogs, and recycles the press releases that come into her inbox while adding little of critical value. I'm sure providing content for the Curbed Network empire is a demanding job, but unfortunately the end product is not useful or smart enough to be my kind of thing.

                                (True, she's much better than Laura Beck who filled in for her sometimes. She was just downright awful.)

                              2. re: scottca075

                                Hakka Restaurant in Outer Richmond is far more superior and true to form to traditional Hakka Cantonese than Ton Kiang, with a more versatile kitchen master chef who really knows what he is doing (and perhaps far more rustic in terms of taste and textures), but that's just me.

                              3. Just because something (Incanto) is overrated does not mean it is not good.

                                I think Lincoln is an overrated president but that doesn't mean I also don't consider him one of the best. Just not as great and glamorized as the press and historians makes him out to be.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  but when you are asked if something is overrated, and you say yes, you don't think it's as good as everyone else says it is, right? i think it's better than, or as good as, most people say it is.

                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                    I think any discussion of "overrated," whether it's food or film or AL shortstops, is silly to begin with. Not everyone will like something as much as everyone else does; it doesn't mean that all those people who are willing to wait in line at Boogaloos or Incanto are wrong. In fact it is supremely arrogant to assume that, because you don't like something, it must mean that all those diners are ignorant or foolish. There is no "wrong answer" with respect to choosing restaurants: if they are waiting in that line, then they must like the way it tastes. The end.

                                    Personally I think all those restaurants are perfectly fine for what they are, although I have never been to the Stinking Rose, and am indifferent to Ton Kiang. I wouldn't wait in those lines either, but that's nothing to do with the food, is it.

                                    1. re: dunstable

                                      >>"I think any discussion of "overrated," whether it's food or film or AL shortstops, is silly to begin with. Not everyone will like something as much as everyone else does; it doesn't mean that all those people who are willing to wait in line at Boogaloos or Incanto are wrong. In fact it is supremely arrogant to assume that, because you don't like something, it must mean that all those diners are ignorant or foolish. There is no "wrong answer" with respect to choosing restaurants: if they are waiting in that line, then they must like the way it tastes. The end. "

                                      You had me until the last part. There are pleanty of reason for folks to wait in those lines. Heck, I bet many of them are first timers that haven't even tasted the food yet.

                                2. I added State Bird Provisions to this list in another thread:


                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Thomas Nash

                                    that bums me out. going there next Friday, 10/26.

                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                      You will have a nice time as there are some very good dishes there. Just keep your anticipation level before going moderated so you don't get disappointed, don't try to share dishes more than 2 ways, speak loudly, and try to get the attention of the tray carrier.

                                      1. re: Thomas Nash

                                        ok, thanks. only two of us going. menu looks fab!

                                  2. I think the some of the reactions to Incanto's inclusion help explain, and justify it's appearance.

                                    I've been calling it overhyped for years, with basic execution problems. Service is fine if you regard it as a neighborhood place and the menu is better rounded than just the the offal and other projects, that the place made it's name off of, but it never deserved developing the reputation it did, or the period where it was beyond criticism. It's a suitable suggestion for someone specifically looking for cockscomb, or whole animal dinners, but as a destination place getting national attention, it's seriously overhyped.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      I don't think Incanto has gotten much national attention except indirectly from Cosentino's TV appearances and his status as a go-to source for journalists writing about nose-to-tail dining, and I don't think any of that really brought in a lot of customers.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        There was a point where it sat alongside places like Gary Danko as a recommended tourist destination, and it certainly did get some national write ups. Wouldn't you say it was Incanto's write ups, and attention for ingredients that led to Consentino drawing attention and gave him a vehicle for promoting himself as a personality?

                                        I do think his public persona has calmed some of the reverence the place had.

                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                          I dunno, but I suspect Cosentino's TV career got its start due to TV chefs like Batali and Bourdain being fans of the place. His first TV shot was challenging Batali on Iron Chef in 2007 and I'm pretty sure incanto.biz had a picture of Batali standing in front of the restaurant long before that.