The Other Critics

Jay Cheshes Impressed by Brushstroke; Ryan Sutton Thinks Sam Talbot ‘Isn’t a Very Reliable Chef’

Robert Sietsema calls the Upper East Side’s Jones Wood Foundry the “most perfect facsimile gastropub of all.” Of the menu of English peasant fare, he writes, “many of the mains tend to be both good and a good deal,” but “the apps are less so.” He finds the mackeral crudo to be “raw seafood hiding in an inordinate amount of salad material squirted with some inscrutable white substance,” but is impressed by the “trio of pale but delicious sausages” in the bangers and mash, and says the roast chicken with mashed potatoes is the “best all-inclusive meal.” On the separate toast menu, the eggs and soldiers are “delectable,” but the potted crab doesn’t appeal. [VV]

In The New Yorker, Lizzie Widdicombe praises Bushwick pizza spot Roberta’s, where the pizza is “[c]hewy and perfectly enticing” with “highbrow ingredients (speck and sopressata) and lowbrow names (the Cheesus Christ)” and the Christmas light and pogo stick décor feels like “kind of operation you probably once dreamed of building in your parents’ garage.” She delights in the constantly changing menu of “more sophisticated stuff,” like sweetbreads that tasted “like Coney Island popcorn shrimp,” and the poached duck egg, “an oozy bubble balanced on a lump of aged Shelburne cheddar cheese and maitake mushrooms, tasted like the essence of Sunday morning.” She is less impressed by the “pork jowl, hot wings, sticky buns” on the brunch menu, which she calls “comforting, but heavy compared to the dinner food.” [NYer]

Lauren Shockey finds Monument Lane “middling,” “neither bad nor awe-inspiring.” She notes that the restaurant “indulges almost every major food fad of the moment”: gourmet comfort food, artisanal cocktails, and a colonial motif. “Skip the two toast options,” she writes, but don’t skip the poutine, a “massive portion of hand-cut spuds nuzzles with cheddar curds and red-wine-braised short ribs, all glossed with a brawny gravy,” listed as a side but “tastier than most entrees here.” The meatloaf and lamb sirloin “do comfort with their familiarity,” but “other plates falter, like the pedestrian pork pot pie” and “the dried-out roast chicken.” [VV]

Sam Sifton awards two stars to David Bouley’s Brushstroke. The space “evokes the serenity of a dojo along with some of the buzzy excitement of one of those clothing stores that displays very little clothing.” He advises that you “[p]ass on the sushi” and “give way to the process: plates served on a flower-bedecked lacquer tray, one after the other offering surprises and the taste of the now.” He praises the”cloudlike scallop-and-lobster dumpling in cherrystone-scented soup” as “a jewel box of immense intensity and diminutive size”; the grilled-duck salad is “perfectly executed”; and Sifton wants four more of the giant Pacific oyster “laid out in its shell like a story,” with a black truffle and Dungeness crab scented steamed egg custard, a flavor “a combination that only improves once you start eating it.” [NYT]

Jay Cheshes also praises Brushstroke, which brings the intricate and formal kaiseki cuisine “into a surprisingly relaxed and accessible setting.” He waxes poetic that the dishes “flow like parts of a symphony, from muted petals of raw kombu-wrapped sea bass one night to a rich and restorative black truffle custard, with crab underneath and sweet mirin on top,” and concludes, “It’s an impressive performance — culinary Kabuki — priced and paced like a Broadway show.” [TONY]

“Sam Talbot isn’t a very reliable chef,” writes Ryan Sutton in his review of Imperial No. Nine, “a pretty restaurant filled with pretty people eating pretty lousy seafood.” The tuna is “spongy, mushy, as if fetched from the same back corner of a refrigerator where the dodgy milk sits,” and the poached shrimp “were rubbery, the heads soggy.” The chicken “tastes like cardboard,” the steak “the tang of liver or kidneys gone bad,” but — his only concession — “the bone marrow is fine.” [Bloomberg]

Jay Cheshes Impressed by Brushstroke; Ryan Sutton Thinks Sam Talbot