Eric Asimov awards the racehorse-themed Saxon + Parole one star for “pleasing” ambiance and a few winning dishes among inconsistent service and food. The best thing on the menu is “an extraordinary burger that is a veritable explosion of umami.” The chicken is “moist” and “flavorful,” the Berkshire pork chop “beautifully cooked,” and several desserts — such as the cinnamon doughnuts and the Mother-in-Law’s Christmas Pudding — are “superb.” Unfortunately, though, the steaks “lack … flavor,” while the branzino is “overcooked and tasteless”; the service is “well meaning and friendly but at times clueless.” Overall, “a little more attention to consistency and execution in cooking and service could make the difference between win, place or show.” [NYT]
Steve Cuozzo awards Romera, the new molecular gastronomy outpost in the Dream Downtown, two stars. “If they were $100 less than the $245 prix fixe … this might be a three-star place with four-star potential.” The service is excellent, the wine list is satisfying, but the food? “[D]ishes composed largely of vegetables and grains — with a few fish elements and minimal meat — don’t add up to $245.” And the “medical” atmosphere does little to “arouse appetites.” [NYP]
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Ligaya Mishan waxes poetic about the delights of that French delight, the macaron. “If you taste but one macaron in this town, may it be from the Upper East Side outpost of Ladurée.” Other New York vendors offering the treat include Vendome, whose cookies “come in supersaturated colors, like iPod nanos” and are “puffier than Ladurée’s.” Brooklyn’s Almondine, with its “barely sweet” and “pure” flavors, gets an “honorable mention,” and choco-holics should head to La Maison du Chocolat, where all the fillings are flavor-infused chocolate. [NYT]
“Tables for Two” visits the historically themed Monument Lane, which has recently been revamped by Cookshop veteran Robert Berry. The “perfect lobster roll” remains, and “execution is vastly improved.” Ham biscuits are “tiny parcels of satisfaction”; the boudin-blanc is “pillowy, snowy perfection.” The “standout” entree is one called “Adam’s Virginia Ham and Farm Eggs” — “an unself-conscious but completely distinctive dish, perfect for fall.” [NYer]
Ryan Sutton gives the new Manhattan outpost of Frankie’s 457 Spuntino one star and sums it up in a sentence: “Stick with Carroll Gardens.” The pork here is “arid” and “mealy,” the lentil soup “nondescript,” the rabbit terrine “rank,” and it all comes with a “90-minute wait.” The bad news continues: The Brussels sprouts are “watery,” the eggplant Parmesan is an “amorphous glob,” and the gnocchi is dressed in “a sweet, cloying gravy.” But, if you do go, there is one redeeming factor: the “killer linguine.” [Bloomberg]
Robert Sietsema checks out the soup dumplings at Shanghai Asian Cuisine, which he declares “superb: thin-skinned, extravagantly stuffed with plenty of pork and crab, with a little tuft of yellow crab protruding from the pucker like chin whiskers on a hillbilly codger.” The delicate dumplings must be eaten carefully and quickly, before the skin breaks and the soup spills out. As for the rest of the menu, don’t be distracted by the high-end offerings — “stick with the Shanghai food.” [Fork in the Road/VV]
Lauren Shockey goes on a ramen tour around Manhattan and Brooklyn, hitting up three oft-talked-about spots. First up is Prospect Height’s Chuko, where the kale salad, gyoza, and ice-cream sandwiches all “shine.” But the ramen is lacking, mainly owing to “overcooked noodles and broths that are bland and oddly buttery (and not in a delectable Paula Deen kind of way).” For miso, head to Ramen Misoya in the East Village, where red, white, and mame miso rule. The “unctuous” pork is a must, and the noodles are “the thickest of the bunch.” Hell’s Kitchen’s Tabata, with its “cheery” staff and “many tasty, affordably priced bowls of goodness,” is her favorite of the three. Don’t miss the sesame-flavored tan tan men or the “simple” salt-flavored shio, “the Asian grandma’s answer to Jewish penicillin.” [VV]