The Other Critics

Sifton Has No Stars for Xiao Ye; Vandaag Is ‘Worth Settling In For’

Xiao Ye is an artful misfire: the sort of place that, as [chef Eddie Huang] sadly appears to desire it to be, is really only best when the customers are a little drunk, a little high, maybe both and in any event extremely hungry,” Sam Sifton says in his zero-star review. There are some bright notes, like the “top-drawer dumplings, open-ended and sweetly moist within, more of that ground Duroc pork combining with Napa cabbage to elevate the flavor exactly to its $8 cost.” [NYT]
Related: Xiao Ye Goes ‘ABC Diner’ With Cheetos Fried Chicken

Vandaag chef Phillip Kirschen-Clark “cooks food worth settling in for,” says Jay Cheshes. The spot is “a restaurant that realizes that being current means starting trends — not following them.” [TONY]
Related: Adam Platt on Vandaag

“While the food at [Manzo] in the Eataly shopping complex will probably thrill you, the premises definitely won’t,” Robert Sietsema notes. “But the menu is amazing, with the capacity to transport you from your shopping-center surroundings into a realm of pure culinary invention.” [VV]
Related: Mega Mario: Eataly Promises New Yorkers the most Exciting Food-Shopping Experience Ever

At the Lambs Club, Gael Greene finds that “dinner is somewhat uneven, good and good enough, less brilliant” than an earlier preview visit. “The farm chicken … previously astonishingly moist, is good but not thrilling, and my halibut filet, cooked rarish as I asked, needs more oomph than market carrots can provide.” [Insatiable Critic]
Related: Chef Geoffrey Zakarian Tastes the National’s Entire Menu at Once, Clears His Palate With Beer

Steve Cuozzo has a different Lambs Club story, loving what he calls “a dandy debut in the land of bright lights, nostalgically clubby and cozy, where hits outnumber flops by 3-to-1 … [it’s] exactly the kind of suave, modern-American menu that belongs at the corporate-showbiz-media vortex of today’s Times Square.” Still, while lunch is great, “evening meals were less consistent.” [NYP]

The skin-on fried chicken at Hill Country Chicken “exhibits the cosmic one-ness between the crust and the skin that the great fried chicken cooks achieve,” raves Ed Levine, though the pies “vary in quality from marginally acceptable to very, very good.” [Serious Eats NY]
Related: First Look at Hill Country Chicken, Now Serving Pimento Sandwiches

Hecho en Dumbo’s vibe “is meant to evoke the sophistication of contemporary Mexico, and the food is appropriately urbane,” says Andrea Thompson. The kitchen takes “a spare approach, using just a few ingredients to superb effect … for all the gastronomic earnestness, the scene feels raw and energized.” [NYer]

Sifton Has No Stars for Xiao Ye; Vandaag Is ‘Worth Settling In For’