The Other Critics

Benu, Not Surprisingly, Earns Three and a Half Stars from Bauer

Photo: Brian Smeets/Grub Street

Mr. Bauer finally files his review of Benu, and it’s a rave. He describes the space as “exud[ing] the tranquillity of a Japanese teahouse,” and he says that chef Corey Lee “employs so many components, unfamiliar ingredients and cutting-edge techniques that each dish requires a diner’s total concentration.” He appears to have called Lee to get some explanation of the molecular gastronomic technique behind his faux shark fin, and he seems to love the dry-aged lamb, calling it “two sublime bites.” He says the overall culinary experience is an “intellectual as much as a sensual experience,” and he calls the service “relaxed, but seamless.”

But then he does something strange: He anticipates the controversy that such a high-minded, minimal, and expensive restaurant might inspire in the age of Yelp, and he quotes a reader/blog commenter who recently complained about a meal at Benu, basically because it’s too austere and the portions are too small. Bauer chalks this up to Lee having a “unique point of view,” and concludes, “that kind of controversy should be expected when food becomes art.”

Benu restaurant delivers bold, intricate artistry [Chron]
Earlier: Kauffman Goes Haute, Loves Benu [Grub Street]
Unterman Says Corey Lee Has ‘Changed All the Rules’ at Benu [Grub Street]

The Tasting Menu at Benu, Illustrated
[Grub Street]

Benu, Not Surprisingly, Earns Three and a Half Stars from Bauer