Midnight snacker Besha Rodell relates her experience at ink. to the somewhat affected way its deviated wine list is presented, as “an expression of both ego and location.” She understands the rabid reception Voltaggio commands, calling his “gorgeously camera-ready” dishes “Pure Hollywood,” with an “insane amount of thought, manpower and technique,” while detailing a visually beguiling plate of cuttlefish and green papaya with intricate levels of craft involved. But visually striking food doesn’t always mean vital food.
Rodell senses that too many dishes concentrate on that old artist ensnarement, style over substance, finding that a “plate arrives, and you oooh and aaahh, but when you take a bite…it’s not nearly as interesting as it looked, and you move on to the next thing.”
Labeling the restaurant “sheer playtime,” Rodell celebrates Voltaggio’s simple pleasures as his highest arc, as in a kanpachi with a “subtle amount of smoke infused into the fish’s delicate flesh.” Unfortunately, these instances are rather rare and she doesn’t even finish her deconstructed steak tartare.
Still, for performance alone, she sounds taken. And while ink. may not yet have a spirit that makes it ideal every day eating, it’s often an experience that makes “you want to get up out of your seat and turn to the glowing stage and give a hearty round of applause.” [LAW]