Mercat Is Loud, Rayuela Is Packed, and Chicken Competition Is Fierce in Flushing

Frank Bruni thinks Mercat’s tapas are good, as long as you steer clear of the seafood and don’t mind salt, but he’s a sourpuss when it comes to the atmosphere. “Some wonderful food, some clangorous acoustics: these are the defining traits.” Something to do with the glass of wine that was spilled on his vestments? [NYT]

Bruni may have been better off dining at Mercat’s bar, where Randall Lane dug the “lively scene.” He also liked what he ate — not exactly the case at Seamus Mullen’s relaunch of Suba. [TONY]

Ryan Sutton stalks chef Riccardo Buitoni at his new Soho spot Aurora and after spying him sipping wine declares him a “master of chill” — and apparently a fan of truffles. Meanwhile he finds Rayuela packed during an early visit and predicts it could be a “serious cocktail destination” with some tweaks. [Bloomberg]
Related: Rayuela Mixologist Junior Merino to Uncork His Latino Cocktail Program on Friday

Unsurprisingly, Andrea Strong runs into Mr. Cutlets at Hill Country and finds him clutching a package of swaddled meat like a protective father. She shares his enthusiasm for what she says is some of the best barbecue she’s ever had. Bottom line: “Wow, this place is awesome.” [Strong Buzz]

"Dining Briefs" takes the A train to Inwood's Park Terrace Bistro and finds “there wasn’t a misstep on the platter.” The Moroccan menu's only flaw is a bland vegetable tagine which was taken off the bill in any case. [NYT]

Sietsema jumps into the fray of four hotly competing Korean chicken-and-beer joints on Northern Boulevard and declares KyoChon the victor, with its whole chicken and vanilla-laced coleslaw. [VV]

“Heaving pork dish” alert: Tito Rad’s Grill and Restaurant in Woodside serves char-grilled pork belly and other Philippine goodness. [NYDN]