Can the new Chow compete with the elevated foods at San Ramon’s City Heart Bishop Ranch?
When I moved to the Bay Place far more than 15 yrs in the past, Chow, the fast paced but welcoming all-working day restaurant in Lafayette’s La Fiesta Sq., was a well-liked place for brunch, and also made available a mishmash of international ease and comfort meals, like steak frites, Thai noodles, deconstructed lasagna and meatloaf. It labored for its time, I suppose, specifically when the other alternative was frog legs at Petar’s. Eventually the restaurant, component of a mini-chain that also had areas in Danville and Oakland, even opened a small marketplace inside, featuring necessities prolonged in advance of we understood what that word would appear to imply to us.
Alas, none of the Chows designed it. All five, like the San Francisco unique, shuttered by 2019, which is when Chow LLC filed for voluntary Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy. Now, Chow is again, this time in a 6,000-sq.-foot, glass-encased place that opened in August at San Ramon’s Metropolis Center Bishop Ranch. The new Chow is beautiful it has superior ceilings and an indoor-outdoor vibe with tons of greenery. The beverage system is robust, with a dozen-furthermore cocktails, 6 neighborhood beers on draft and at minimum 10 wines, a mix of Previous and New Globe, at an affordable $13-and-underneath a glass.
But it is challenging to know how Chow’s food items method fits into the East Bay dining scene in 2022, in particular offered its rapid environment. They may incorporate chains, but the eating places at Bishop Ranch supply higher-excellent world foods, some at the leading of their respective categories, from ramen (Hiroshi Ramen) and Italian (Delarosa) to Vietnamese (Slanted Doorway), udon (Marugame Udon) sushi (Bamboo Sushi) and Indian delicacies (Curry Up Now). You get the photograph.
On a evening meal menu featuring a couple of tacos, a few pastas, popcorn shrimp and beef carpaccio, what stands out? Just cannot believe we’re executing this — quoting a Yelper — but in the terms of Randy B., “The menu is meh. A small of this and a very little of that — aka ‘eclectic.’ In other words and phrases, identity disaster.” (He did delight in the burger).
Potentially some menu descriptions further than the one or two words that Chow offers would help. What does “Chicken taco, chipotle” mean? Is that the chile pepper? A rub? A sauce? Our pleasant server arrived at our table pen to pad, keen to scrawl our orders and cover his other tables. No time to chat prep or substances.
We can absolutely advocate our starter, a basket of crispy, nevertheless-heat arancini ($10), their insides sufficiently chewy with tomato-spiked rice and gooey mozzarella. From there, our food went a little bit south. My kid’s chicken tenders did not feel to be created from tenders but from thicker hen breast that was tough in areas, much too tricky to chew, and it lacked salt or seasoning. Thai Chili Noodles ($21), although flavorful, experienced from lime overload as very well as the identical dry, rough, overcooked meat challenge — rooster and beef.
And although the pork in my Pork Tacos “Al Pastor” ($16.50) was moist, that may possibly have been from the abundance of chunky pineapple sauce. That is not al pastor. It was served with a lovely environmentally friendly salad — Chow always used pristine, natural create when feasible, and it nonetheless does — but I couldn’t assistance but truly feel envious of people feeding on tacos at C Casa on the other side of the City Heart elaborate.
If Chow wishes to contend in this Tri-Valley culinary epicenter, it will need to action up its recreation or sharpen its emphasis. Or both equally.