Per Se Salon Impresses; Burger Battle at Minetta Tavern

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Frank Bruni eats cheap(er) this week: Anthos Upstairs is an improvisation, and feels that way; Damon: Frugal Friday has a frantic pace; Halfsteak suffers from half service; and the la carte meal at Per Se was superb and yet utterly ridiculous. [NYT]

Alan Richman also visits the bargain Per Se and swoons for less than $250: [] la carte is defined as eating a normal-sized meal at a price normal human beings might consider reasonable. [Forked/GQ]

The food is almost as compelling as the celebrities, says Ryan Sutton of Minetta Tavern. [Bloomberg]

Danyelle Freeman picks the Minetta burger over the Black Label burger. [NYDN]

Gael Greene defies the photography ban at Monkey Bar, but given all the unemployed kitchen talent floating around town, the food could be much better. [Insatiable Critic]

The vintage act can get to be a bit much, but Vinegar Hill [Houses] prices redeem its pretensions, writes Lauren Collins. [NYer]

The spare, waif-friendly hand with butter and fat at Armani/Ristorante 5th Avenue gave Jay Cheshess food the right toothsome texture but not much real flavor. [TONY]

Theres so much meat at Balkh Shish Kabab House in Astoria that Robert Sietsema suggests opting for a vegetarian opener: The appetizers are fabulous. [VV]