Eighty One Earns Two Stars and a Bon Mot; the Harrison Starts Out With a Rave

Frank Bruni finds Eighty One to be busy, a little vain, but on the whole very good — although he wishes they would ease up with the duos and trios already. Great Bruni line of the week: “[The] oversize red velvet booths that look as if they were carted in from a bordello on some planet where the prostitutes are 12 feet tall.” [NYT]

Amanda Freitag's move from Gusto to the Harrison is now officially a success, as her first major review is a five-star job from Jay Cheshes. Cheshes loves the room and makes a point of praising the “ought-to-be-legendary duck-fat fries with lemony mayo.” [TONY]
Related: Psilakis, Freitag Simultaneously Reinvent Vinegar-Flavored French Fries

Dinner was okay in the early going for Restaurant Girl at Ago, with the pizzas and appetizers doing their job. But then the pastas and proteins came, and with them a string of adjectives — “gamey,” “salty,” “sloppy,” “oily,” and “overcooked” — that reduced the place to a single star. [NYDN]

Alan Richman, like everybody else, had to wait, and wait, and wait, to get into Artichoke pizza. But once there it delivered the goods: "This isn’t just pizza. This is the way ordinary food used to taste in New York — superficially no different from food anywhere else, but in reality considerably better." [GQ]

Duane Park has been around in its current form for several months, but Paul Adams gives it its first major review, and likes it a lot, despite the food ranging “from unimpressive to fantastic.” He concentrates on the latter and gives extra points for its general affordability. [NYS]

Robert Sietsema is as pleased as punch to have discovered in Estrellita Poblana III what “might be the city's most sophisticated purveyor of southern Mexican food.” And it's in the Belmont section of the Bronx, of all places. [VV]

The food at Commerce impressed Nick Paumgarten, especially the slow-cooked chicken, which earns a big chunk of the review to itself. One of Commerce's best reviews yet. [NYer]

Ryan Sutton gives Anita Lo's bar Q its first rave, and as with Paul Adams's Duane Park review, no small part of it is about how affordable the food is. Meanwhile, despite shout-outs for its eel fritters and Kobe beef, it sounds like a regular pork paradise with its parade of stuffed ribs, belly, and even pork “wings.” [Bloomberg]