The Other Critics

9 Brutal Lines From Pete Wells’s Michel Richard Takedown

Guess he didn't like the fried chicken.
Guess he didn’t like the fried chicken. Photo: Melissa Hom

Picking up on where Adam Platt left off in his own review of the restaurant this week for New York, Pete Wells takes aim at the bistro portion of Villard Michel Richard and leaves the ritzy Palace Hotel establishment zero stars. (Both critics admired the roast chicken, incidentally, so there’s that.) The narrative even compels the disbelieving Wells to take a trip to Washington, D.C., to Central Michel Richard, so he can sample the dishes the chef’s New York restaurant are based on. The whole thing is online here, but the verdict is that something isn’t quite up to snuff in Midtown East.

1. On the veal blanquette: “Slithering around the meat was a terrifying sauce the color of jarred turkey gravy mixed with cigar ashes.”

2. Of the house bisque: “The Villard version was floury, pale and almost completely bland; you could get nearly as much flavor by putting a lobster bib into a juicer.”

3. “One night, when my table of three wanted a little Beaujolais, the sommelier tried to sell us a magnum.”

“If soldiers had killed Escoffier’s family in front of him and then forced him to make dinner, this is what he would have cooked.”

5. “Mr. Richard was so clearly a smart, accomplished chef that for one crazy moment, I wondered if Villard Michel Richard was bad on purpose.”

6. “If Villard Michel Richard doesn’t make it as a restaurant, it could reopen as the Museum of Unappetizing Brown Sauces.”

7. “Think of everything that’s great about fried chicken. Now take it all away.”

8. “The difference between them was like the difference between winning a medal for figure skating and falling through the ice.” — On the disparate renditions of fried chicken served in D.C. and New York.

9. “This unidentifiable paste coats your mouth until you can’t perceive textures or flavors. It is like edible Novocain.” — On the purée served with the fried chicken.

A Visitor’s Luxury Room
[New York Times]
Earlier: Platt: Villard Michel Richard Is Fit for Nobility

9 Brutal Lines From Pete Wells’s Michel Richard Takedown