The Other Critics: Wells Raves About El Quinto Pino; Amelia Lester Reviews Pickle Shack

Two stars for chef Alex Raij and her husband, Eder Montero.
Two stars for chef Alex Raij and her husband, Eder Montero. Photo: Jay Hanna for New York Magazine

This week, New York critic Adam Platt wrote about the golden age of lunch. Meanwhile, Pete Wells reviewed El Quinto Pino, Bill Addison hung out at the Spotted Pig, and Amelia Lester visited Pickle Shack. Read it all, straight ahead.

Pete Wells dropped two stars on El Quinto Pino, which now has a proper dining room. He especially enjoyed the famed uni panino (“one of the city’s essential sandwiches”), the Cubano, and the Catalonian bikini, topped with roasted poblanos and huitlacoche (corn fungus). The sweet crema catalana, flavored with cinnamon and lemon zest, ended things nicely.

Amelia Lester checked out Pickle Shack, a cozy spot near the Gowanus Canal, where she enjoyed an eggplant sandwich, the cornmeal-crusted fried pickles, and the fries (made by “boiling, frying, freezing, frying again”). Take advantage of the Shack’s extensive beer menu, like Lester’s favorite, My Blueberry Nightmare.

At vegetarian restaurant Bhojan, Robert Sietsema found plenty to like. He gave the Murray Hill spot three out of four stars and lavished praise on dishes like Gujarati kadhi, a yogurt-and-chickpea-flour blend that coats a dish of rice. Also order the vindaloo, “hot as hell and distractingly sweet at the same time.” Avoid the kama sutra cocktail, a vodka, gin, and rum mess muddied with stomach-churning results.

Bill Addison scored a table at the Spotted Pig (as well as Tosca Café). The pureed asparagus soup took him by surprise, and he enjoyed the burger, of course. Not everything worked, like the sodden and heavy pork rillettes, but entrées like braised rabbit leg soared.

Zachary Feldman (The Village Voice) filed a review of Bunna Café, an Ethiopian eatery in Bushwick. The menu is small (only nine dishes), so spring for the combination platters, like the earthy, rosemary-flavored portobello mushrooms, or the yellow split peas spiced with tumeric. The restaurant is still without its liquor license, but Bunna’s only dessert, a sweet and deeply rich baklava, is “a mighty contender.”

Michael Kaminer gave Front Toward Enemy in Queens three out of four stars. In his review, the Daily News critic thinks the restaurant is a surprising Astoria standout, thanks to specialties like the grilled octopus and the Long Island fish cake, which “actually rings with ocean notes.”