Last year, shortly after they both opened, we did a side-by-side comparison of the Smith and Smith’s. Finally, Frank Bruni has had a chance to drop into both, and (guess what?) despite the fact that Doug Psaltis has been installed as a chef-partner at Smith’s, Le Bruni seems to like the cheapo joint, the Smith, better! Compare today’s dreary words about Danny Abrams’s Greenwich Village joint — “Smith’s on this night didn’t excite us in the least. What came out of the kitchen tasted uneventful, ordinary” — to his recent praise for the Jane team’s East Village establishment: “Not a thing I ate rose to the level of truly impressive, but a side of beer-battered string beans ($5) was generously sized and total fun: an upgraded bar snack of sorts. A bowl of orecchiette with chicken sausage, broccoli rabe and hot chili ($15) was the kind of thing that, if you’d whipped it up late at night at home, would leave you very impressed with yourself … And the chicken was more tender than much of the chicken I’ve had in restaurants that flaunt more ambition.” This has to be a serious ego blow to Smith’s. But we still think the chicken dinner is a deal.
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