Pamplona Given a New Lease on Life; Bobo Hit Hard

Alex Urea's somewhat mainstreamed restaurant, Pamplona, earns the catchall two-star rating from Frank Bruni a great victory for them, since it legitimizes the restaurant and puts it on the solid footing it desperately needed. Bruni doesn't sound especially impressed, however: His best dishes are more than memorable enough to redeem Pamplonas shortcomings. Well, that's good! [NYT]

Critics tend to like writing about restaurants that fail badly in one way (such as the food) while succeeding in another, less important way (such as the room). That disjunction gives Danyelle Freeman free rein to jump with both feet onto Bobo. [NYDN]

Randall Lane checks in on the two newly opened Mexican restaurants, Toloache and Los Dados and likes them both okay, but he has changed his ways and is now throwing around stars like they were manhole covers: three (of six) for Toloache, home of the famous grasshopper taco, and two for meatpacking trendhole Los Dados. [TONY]

Los Dados certainly doesn't fool Paul Adams, who dissects its uninspired offerings in his precise, measured way, leaving us with no desire at all to visit the place. [NYS]

BLT Market picks up another enthusiastic review, this one from free-floating food columnist Steve Cuozzo in the Post. The Cuozz is almost as skeptical about the premise as Adam Platt (Well, blow me down! Seasonal, artisanal items on a menu! What will they dream up next?) but loves both the food and the room, and the review is an unabashed rave. [NYP]

Moira Hodgson seems to have been stripped of her stars in the Observer but writes a glowing review of Allen & Delancey that reads like a two-or-better. After the obligatory note about how expensive and fancy the Lower East Side has gotten, she wades into the ultrarich menu and wades out again very happy. [NYO]

The new Blue Ribbon and Brasserie 44 at the Royalton both get hit right out of the gate by Ryan Sutton, who loves, loves, loves the first, and has naught but scorn for the latter, thanks to the high prices and unambitious food: Creamy chestnut soup is no better or worse than anywhere else [Bloomberg]

The New Yorker is the anti-Sutton: They seem not to go to restaurants until they've been open since the Eisenhower administration. Everyone knows Kefi is great! But Ligaya Mishan's review is so enthusiastic that is still brings a sense of excited discovery. [NYer]

Robert Sietsema, back in his comfort zone, reports on Poodam's Thai Cuisine, a new Isaan Thai restaurant in Astoria. The food sounds more hot than interesting. [VV]