Mesa Grill Keeps One Star, Barely; Richman Rejuvenated by DovetailMesa Grill loses a star, but this is one of the worst one-star reviews you’ll ever read, even going so far as to compare it to gulag gourmet: “During one dinner the three slivers of chicken in the appetizer tacos were among the most shriveled, desiccated pieces of meat I’ve seen outside a bodega buffet at 3 a.m.” [NYT]
Related: Salute the Gulag Gourmet Movement
Now this is something cheering: Alan Richman found a tablecloth restaurant that got him genuinely excited. Dovetail’s food, he says approvingly, is “exuberant and shocking” — in a good way. [Bloomberg]
Paul Adams hits Cooper Tavern, a not particularly ambitious hotel restaurant recently given a “meh” review by Frank Bruni, and likes it a little better, although the fries are “pathetically poor” and the pork chop is “hardly going to be the talk of the city’s pork chop grapevine.” We can testify that that part is true. [NYS]
Cipriani Downtown Having a Bit of Work Done; Cupcake Glut Still Centered in theAstoria: La Guli Bakery at 29-15 Ditmars Boulevard serves gelato throughout the winter if you get an irrational craving in this blistery weather. [Joey in Astoria]
East Village: La Palapa is offering Super Bowl catering packages if you decide to pass on the Tostitos and Chi-Chi’s salsa this year. [Grub Street]
Forest Hills: Rouge Bistro has closed. [Grub Street]
Hell’s Kitchen: Newish restaurants like Cooper’s Tavern and Go!Go! Curry mean you can finally find something to eat in the garment district. [NYT]
Midtown East: “I could live — and dine out nightly — for more than 100 years, and I still don’t think I’d come to understand restaurants like Il Nido,” says Bruni about the expensive, hit-or-miss Italian. But over 1,000 words later, he’s explained the survival of old-school inconsistent restaurants quite well. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Soho: Cipriani Downtown will be closed most of this week for renovations to the floor and bar area. [Eater]
West Village: A cupcake bar called Sweet Revenge is opening this spring at 62 Carmine Street near Bedford Street, and the owner’s goal is to sex up the revered city sweets. [Crain’s NY via Eater]
The Other Critics
Chicken to the Rescue at Blue Ribbon Sushi; The Smith Hit HardThe latest Blue Ribbon Sushi gets a whopping two stars from Frank Bruni, despite its titular sushi being not that great. No, it’s the souped-up fried chicken that added a star, making this two weeks in a row that poultry has saved the day. [NYT]
Paul Adams hits new East Village comfort-food zone the Smith with one of his rare bad reviews — generally, he finds the food clumsy and gross: “A main course of lamb schnitzel ($17) shows what the kitchen can do at its best: not particularly much.” Ouch! [NYS]
Nor was Danyelle Freeman especially enthralled with Brasserie 44, which got one and a half stars out of four. Her recollections of its food seem highly detailed, suggesting that she didn’t leave her notebook behind. [NYDN]
Related: So the Critic Left Her (?) Notes. So What?
In the Magazine
A Sloppy Joe Sanctuary Opens Near MSGHeading up our short list of new hotel restaurants this week was Cooper’s Tavern, a new meatery over in the New Yorker Hotel, and as such a welcome option for post–Knicks games, for those few fans who will actually have an appetite after watching the team this season. As Rob and Robin point out, Cooper’s is one of few restaurants here that attempts a serious Sloppy Joe, this one courtesy of braised short ribs. (No words on whether a can of Manwich sauce goes into the mix.). Hot-dog quartets and seafood melts round out the bar sandwich menu, but there’s other stuff too, some of it looking pretty high-end, and priced accordingly. But somehow after you watch the Knicks’ offense, we bet Sloppy Joes will suffice.
Cooper’s Tavern: New Yorker Hotel, 481 Eighth Ave., at 35th St.; 212-268-8460.
Short List: Dining-Room Service [NYM]