Sifton Finds ‘Simplicity and Elegance’ at Vandaag; Sietsema Raves Over Strong Place

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A meal at Vandaag "is both simplicity and elegance combined," says Sam Sifton. "A capable, handsome serving staff provides close and almost control-freaky service," and the food is "a version of Northern European cooking refracted through an East Village lens." [NYT]

Strong Place "might be the most perfect evocation of the Brooklyn bistro to date," raves Robert Sietsema. The menu "conforms to modern food preoccupations ... In fact, much of the menu is splendid enough to make you want to visit on a weekly basis." [VV]

BLT Bar & Grill "doesn’t inspire much confidence," says Jay Cheshes. "The clone-ready restaurant ... is a personality-free zone, and an embarrassment to the man whose initials still adorn the marquee." The menu offers "an odd mix of high and low classics, lobster risotto on the same menu as beer-battered fish — a diner designed with off-duty bankers in mind." [TONY]

The $120-for-four bouillabaisse at La Mangeoire "stung of so much Pernod we would’ve failed sobriety tests. It wasn’t pleasant," Ryan Sutton reports. "Far better — indeed, very good — was the Provencal fare we didn’t need to order ahead of time." He's so disappointed by Plein Sud that he wonders whether "AvroKO must’ve designed the non-descript, banquette-laden space with rotating tenants in mind." [Bloomberg]

The Plaza Food Hall "is a fancy food court, and it fulfills its function with gusto," says Katherine Stirling. "The something-for-everyone ethos hardly lends itself to great flights of fancy, but the execution provides far more pleasant surprises than ugly ones." [NYer]
Related: Todd English Targets His Demographic

At Hill Country Chicken, "plump, moist, buttermilk-brined birds from Bell and Evans can hold their own in fast company," says Gael Greene. "Maybe it’s not the paragon of greasy richness [chef Charles Gabriel] dishes up but the bird itself wondrously moist and rather elegant." [Insatiable Critic]
Related: First Look at Hill Country Chicken, Now Serving Pimento Sandwiches