Critics Like Chop Suey Despite Themselves; One Star for IliliFrank Bruni awards one star to Ilili, establishing the restaurant’s critical reception as generally admiring but far from ardent. Bruni uses it as an occasion to discourse on the current trend of highlighting previously low-rent genres, but he seems to have liked all the food and not found the prices or noise too distracting. [NYT]
Steve Cuozzo wanted to hate Chop Suey, he really did. The name was dumb, and he was skeptical of consulting chef Zak Pelaccio, whose “résumé of short-lived eatery associations … is as long as his list of bona fide accomplishments is short.” But he loved the food and its “bold, explosive” flavors. [NYP]
Ryan Sutton also plays the “better than it has any right to be” card with Chop Suey, declaring the place as “jolting, gorgeous, frightening” and reluctantly praising its Korean-themed food. [Bloomberg]
EPA Joins Mercury Craze; A ‘Seinfeld’–Inspired Food StudyThe Environmental Protection Agency is beginning to examine the mercury levels in the twenty most commonly eaten fish in the New York City region. [NYT]
Top Chef seductress/hostess Padma Lakshmi is moving into a full-floor loft in Alphabet City. [The Real Estate/NYO]
The holy triumvirate of burgers, fries, and milk shakes continues to dominate the nation’s culinary imagination. [NRN]
Huynh Still In at Bun, But Reluctantly SoYesterday Bret Thorn seemingly debunked Gael Greene’s assertion that Michael Huynh left Bun because he wasn’t getting along with his partners and was opening a noodle shop near his other joint Mai House. Thorn had it from the restaurant that Huynh was merely on vacation. Bun’s publicist, Sam Firer, e-mailed something to that effect: “Michael just came back from Vietnam last night and he’s a wee bit surprised to find out he’s left two of his restaurants. He hasn’t. Just a malicious rumor.” However now the Insatiable Critic, who started all of this in the first place, hears from Huynh that although he considered leaving the restaurant, he decided he didn’t want to lose his investment.
Michael ‘Bao’ Huynh Out at Bun; A Le Cirque DocumentaryMichael “Bao” Huynh has left his post at Bun, saying he couldn’t get along with his partner. Next up: a new noodle shop in Tribeca. [Insatiable Critic]
Burgerphilia: a new term about burger obsessives we won’t be using. [Time]
Related: Daniel Boulud’s Downtown Burger Place Finally Signs the Lease
A Table in Heaven, a documentary that looks at Le Cirque’s move from the Palace Hotel to the Bloomberg building, was screened at the Sundance Film Festival and promises to show Sirio Maccioni’s tendency to exceed the restaurant’s 2 percent cap on free meals. [NYDN]
The Other Critics
One Star Seals the Deal for Irving Mill; Ilili Surprises in a Good WayThe story on Irving Mill was written before Frank Bruni delivered the coup de grâce — an ambivalent one-star review that pointed out the restaurant’s odd inconsistencies. At this point, a one star was probably a best-case scenario for the place. [NYT]
Speaking of best-case scenarios, we bet that Gordon Ramsay had higher hopes for Bruni’s rereview of his big restaurant than the one that runs in Dining Briefs. Bruni finds Gordon Ramsay at the London still excellent but boring, and Peter Meehan isn’t too crazy about Bun. [NYT]
We heard that Ilili was a disaster, with bad service and worse food. So did Paul Adams, who was surprised to find that the word on the street was dead wrong. Adams even calls the food was “far, far better than it needs to be.” [NYS]
Bun Asks the Age-Old Question: ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’
The trend Frank Bruni got hip to a year ago — restaurants piping in obnoxious music — seems only to have gotten worse. We were willing to let it go when recently opened Jamaican bar/restaurant Red Stripe subjected us to reggae interpretations of Madonna and Prince (they were not without their charm, and people do dance to it), but this weekend Michael Huynh’s mostly empty Vietnamese joint Bun hit a low note by blasting a techno remix of “Who Let the Dogs Out.” Really, Bun? Really? Foie gras and Baha Men?
The New York Diet
Comedian Aziz Ansari Won’t Stand for Gourmet Chicken and Waffles
Since being named Rolling Stone’s “hot stand-up,” Aziz Ansari has risen to still more prominence as — quite memorably — the racist fruit vendor on Flight of the Conchords and a star of MTV’s Human Giant (now filming its second season). One of the latter show’s memorable skits has Aziz taking a blood oath with his co-stars Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel to visit the fictional BBQ joint KC Rib Tickler’s (having grown up in South Carolina, Aziz is indeed a barbecue fan). Though they have yet to actually shed blood over it in reality, Aziz and his co-stars are passionate about checking out newly opened spots (using Adam Platt’s reviews as a pointer, we’re happy to hear!). We asked him where he’s been this week.
The Other Critics
Cipriani Charged With ‘Highway Robbery’; Market Table Gets a BigFrank Bruni pens one of his best zero-star reviews ever in putting down Harry Cipriani, hard: “The crime that comes to mind first when I think of the Ciprianis is highway robbery. Based on my recent experience, that’s what happens almost any time Harry Cipriani on Fifth Avenue serves lunch or dinner.” Brillo-like potatoes? $23 for asparagus? Bruni makes ‘em pay. [NYT]
Market Table gets two and a half stars from Restaurant Girl, who praises the solid American cooking and buys into the overall concept. We wondered if MT wouldn’t be the restaurant that absorbed the Haute Barnyard backlash, but it seems to have dodged it so far. [NYDN]
Paul Adams hits Tailor and delivers the most intelligently rendered version of what seems to be the verdict on the place: The food is brilliant but spotty, and the drinks are great. [NYS]
Back of the House
Gael Reports on Spring Rolls and Marital Strife at BunNobody can put together food and matters of the heart like Gael Greene, and the Insatiable One really brings it in her blog today with a tale of love and dumplings. Michael Huynh just opened Bun with his new wife, and Greene was on hand to witness the marital strife between the two: “The bride, Thao Nguyen,” writes Greene, “stands at the counter in another world, seemingly wrapped in serenity, her hair tightly bound, eyes black with mascara, as she fashions classic spring rolls in fragile paper, two by two, for waiters — both freshly hatched and speedy veterans — to carry away. ‘He doesn’t like my food,’ she whispers. ‘He criticizes my food.’” A bad omen! Greene, at least, likes the food there. A lot. But it’s the threatening clouds looming over the Huynh union that you’ll remember after reading this. Anyway, they say the first six months are the hardest.
Is it Soup or Soap Opera at Bun? [Insatiable Critic]
Pamplona Debuts Lunch; Bed-Stuy Gentrifiers SlackingAstoria: Il Bambino at 34-08 31st Avenue has a new, yummy-looking menu. [Joey in Astoria]
Bedford-Stuyvesant: The area’s gentrification isn’t happening fast enough, as illustrated by such dining options as standard-issue Indian and spit-out sushi. [Eat for Victory/VV]
East Village: A new spot called Senor Pollo will open on First Avenue at 13th Street. [Eater]
Midtown: L’Impero has started Sunday suppers, homey four-course meals featuring more rustic cooking than you would usually find on the menu, from 4:30 to 9:30, for $42 a person. [Grub Street]
Murray Hill/Kips Bay: Pamplona is now open for lunch and serving plates of truffle-oil-poached egg on white-asparagus salad, not to mention confit of suckling pig with caramelized apples. [Grub Street]
Soho: Bun opens October 29, and 4-Foodies is hosting an event on the 30th with a chance to sample a variety of the dishes including short ribs wrapped on lemongrass skewers and Berkshire belly with nem sausage. [Grub Street]