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Best Comeback 

Balaban's

Don't call it a comeback? Balaban's been here for years? Well, yeah. That's sort of the point. When Brendan Marsden (of Modesto) and his partner Harlee Sorkin bought the Central West End institution late last year, they could have banked on the inertia of the past three and a half decades. Instead they gave the place a much-needed sprucing-up and installed former Harvest executive chef Andy White in the kitchen. White brought a modern American touch to Balaban's French-bistro faade, offering everything from sweetbreads with rhubarb compote to grilled sashimi-worthy tuna in a pinot noir reduction to maybe the best steak frites in town. White left Balaban's at the end of the summer, and the restaurant hasn't entirely turned its back on its heritage — though its famous cucumber bisque was retired when longtime cook Selina Ford passed away earlier this year, you can still order the signature beef Wellington — but there's no going back now. And that's a good thing.

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