The Other Critics

Virbila Sups in London; Jonathan Gold Takes Manhattan

Sometimes we get the feeling Irene Virbila would rather be eating anywhere other than L.A. Today she puts the Times’ expense account to work in London, where she eats at St. John Hotel, the new restaurant by Fergus Henderson, and later, sups with Heston Blumenthal at his new restaurant, Dinner. Obviously, she likes both quite a bit, they are two of the town’s hottest tickets, even before she set quill to parchment. She does a back-flip for Ferguson’s Gloucester Old Spot pig, but bays over the prices for French-only wines (maybe she misses Cali after all). She returns to find an army of great chefs eating off the late-night menu (Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Grant Achatz, and Andoni Luis Aduriz!!), followed by cameos by Jay Rayner and Bruno Doucet. She likes it so much, she almost thinks of sleeping there. Instead, she saves her bread for Dinner, reminding us of the open translation of that term whilst traveling abroad. She’s impressed that Blumenthal is not just bringing Fat Duck closer to the city, but rather a study of the history of British cuisine, of which she adores the medieval “meat fruit” and loves the pork chops. She also sees Eric Ripert having a bite, making us believe her when she writes, “Taken together, these new restaurants are two more reasons why London is one of the most exciting places to eat right now.” [LAT]

Jonathan Gold eats his way around New York, but first dictates which restaurants you must be enjoying there to fit in with the in crowd at The James Beard media and cookbook award banquet, where the favorite questions is “where have you eaten?” If it’s The Breslin or Marea, you’re behind the times. If it’s Torrisi or Eataly, you still get to hang out with the cool kids, while (no doubt to Gold’s glee) knowing your Chinese in Flushing is a bigger badge of honor. He finds the dressed crab salad with a Bloody Mary at The Dutch to be one of the best he’s ever had, while also getting a sneak peak at Boulud Sud before declaring “critics shouldn’t hang out at dress rehearsal.” His New York counterpart takes him for marrow bones with snails at M Wells, which he applauds, but his favorite bite proves we aren’t about to lose him to The Big Apple again. Sinking into Octavio Becerra’s pork belly banh mi after the awards, Gold states, “I was proud, I was hungry, and damn, did that sandwich taste like home.” [LAW]

“If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to live inside the perforated skull of SpongeBob SquarePants…Moore’s [Delicatessen] is your kind of place,” writes J. Gold of a space that “occupies the useful ground between traditional deli and gastropub” offering both a lox scramble, a “proper” cheeseburger, and a bowl of lentil daal. [LAW]

Where oh where can one linger over their meal in this city? Mr. Gold offers Mozza and Son of a Gun, where we recently saw him take a table after ten one evening and the servers know you’re likely in it for the long haul and not before you catch the seven o’;clock screening of Something Borrowed. Still, if linger you must, you’ll be best served by the location of Aroma Cafe in Encino, “which may not be the single best Middle Eastern restaurant in town, but is certainly the most Israeli, and its crowded, smoky patio runs practically until dawn on weekends.” [LAW]

Virbila Sups in London; Jonathan Gold Takes Manhattan