Junior’s cheesecake really isn’t all that…Photo: CorbisThe Post returned to an evergreen feature idea today, every editor’s best friend: the “overrated” list. Since our philosophy has always been to slavishly ape the Post in every way short of peppering our posts with the phrase “tot-slay suspect,” we thought we might add a few of our own. Since the Post didn’t limit itself to specific dishes at specific restaurants, we won’t either. Here are a few things that we find ourselves less than overawed with these days.
• The Stage Deli. The Carnegie came in for the Post’s scorn, but the truth is that they still deliver one of the all-time great sandwiches, even if it is too big and too expensive. That’s what they invented extra bread for! But its neighboring delis, such as the Stage, make sandwiches inferior in every way, and almost as expensive.
• New York strip steak at the Palm. The Palm is indeed supremely old-school, and everyone likes it for that reason, but the steak there is no better than you would find in any good hotel restaurant in America. We’ve pilloried Peter Luger in the past, but the Palm is actually much more deserving of the “overrated” stamp, as it was never good, whereas Peter Luger was always the undisputed gold standard.
• Jamon Iberico de Bellota. You’ve heard about it, you’ve read about it, and it is actually pretty good. But it’s by no means the final word in ham. There are half a dozen American hams every bit as intense — although not as oily and nutty.
• Irish Carbombs. A tasteless drink with a tasteless name: You won’t see us drinking Spanish Train Bombs or an Israeli Disco Bombs either.
• Buttoned-up bartenders. Who says you need a monkey suit to pour a drink? It almost makes us long for Tom Cruise in Cocktail.
• M.F.K. Fisher. Can we go on record as saying that we never liked Fisher as a food writer? Her treacly, precious, brittle meditations never moved us, made us hungry, or plated a meaningful memory. Give us the Sterns, Calvin Trillin, or A.J. Liebling any day.
• Italian as the new French. While there are a few genuinely transcendent Italian restaurants in New York, such as Alto, L’Impero, Insieme, A Voce, and San Domenico, the fact is that Italian food was never really meant to be haute cuisine. The French invented the game, and they’re still the best at it. At least in France, anyway.
• French as the new Japanese. All the top Gallic chefs in town are working so hard to show that they have global reach that you’re as likely to find soy sauce as butter in half the things they make. With all respect to the great fusion pioneers, can we go back to the days of stock, heavy cream, and all the other murderous ingredients of old?
What do you consider overrated in New York’s food world? Let us know.