P*ONG Found to Be Small and Uneven; Monkey Bar Gets Hammered

Frank Bruni appreciates Pichet Ong’s skill and creativity but finds his restaurant, P*ONG, in what will probably be a defining review, unequal to his talent: “Mr. Ong is an enterprising cook, but he doesn’t seem to be a seasoned restaurateur, and P*ong points out the difference.” [NYT]

Similarly, Paul Adams grants that FR.OG chef Didier Virot has “has a virtuosic ability with flavors,” but was less than thrilled with the restaurant. That’s about in keeping with most other reviews the place has had, which call out a few dishes but give it an “eh” otherwise. [NYS]

Randall Lane disliked the Monkey Bar so much that it’s amazing that he gave it two stars (out of six). “More often, though, the dishes were so unsuccessful that I had difficulty finishing them.” Eek. Not what you want to hear after a huge, expensive relaunch.[TONY]

Cassellula, the cheese-centric new restaurant on West 52nd Street, earns some praise for its macaroni and cheese and one or two other dishes, but overall gets a mixed response from Andrea Thompson.[NYer]
Related: The Underground Gourmet Taps Pig’s Ass As Sandwich of the Week

Ryan Sutton's first look at Gemma makes the food sound pretty appetizing, although the Waverly Inn comparisons may scare off people with no great love for fighting throngs of socialites. [Bloomberg]
Related: Gemma Pulse Check: It’s No Waverly

Usually Robert Sietsema is a sucker for African restaurants, and he seemed to enjoy his visit to Le Conakry in Bed-Stuy, but he clearly didn’t think much of the food. [VV]

Bob Lape’s two visits to Wild Salmon resulted in one much-appreciated meal, one disaster, and a one-and-a-half star rating for Jeffrey Chodorow’s seafood palace. He’s not the first critic to mention the place’s inconsistency, either. [Crain’s NY]