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Danyelle Freeman

  1. Back of the House
    Ten Moments to Remember From 2007 “Life fades … vision dims … and all that remains is memory.” Such are the haunting first words of The Road Warrior, and we can’t help but think of them as we look back, through heavy lids, at the year that was. 2007 was a memorable restaurant year in so many ways, but there are a few that stick out in our minds. Our favorite moments of the last year would definitely have to include:
  2. The Other Critics
    Allen & Delancey Gets Its Two-Star Due; Irving Mill Continues to UninspireIn spite of lousy desserts and a misstep in the fish department there, Frank Bruni couldn’t avoid giving Allen and Delancey’s complex, accomplished food two stars. [NYT] Alan Richman, no pushover, was also very impressed by Allen & Delancey, though he noted that the chef’s strength clearly lies in the realm of turf, rather than surf. Still, the respect is there: “The visceral satisfaction is high. He piles on flavors, and he does so with assurance.” [Bloomberg] Irving Mill: tired concept, spotty execution. Restaurant Girl joins the chorus. [NYDN]
  3. The Other Critics
    Ilili Makes An Enemy in Steve Cuozzo; Bruni Picks on GrayzThough the food sounded pretty good at Ilili, the place treated Steve Cuozzo so badly that the Cuozz was forced to pay them back with an atomic review — one that sounds richly deserved. [NYP] In one of his silliest reviews, Frank Bruni goes on for half the article complaining that restaurants don’t always fit in neat categories, then punishes Grayz for it with a blistering one-star review. Odd. [NYT] Bruni’s mini-review in Dining Briefs is much more logical and succinct: “That’s Belcourt: the predictable made surprising; comfort with a wink.” Meanwhile, on the undercard, Peter Meehan was mostly pleased with Graffiti, despite its minute size, and Marian Burros not so happy with Lucy of Gramercy. [NYT]
  4. The Other Critics
    Fiamma Earns Its Third Star; Love for Kenny ShopsinFiamma hits the three-star jackpot, tickling Frank Bruni in his sweet spot and earning itself the critical credibility Steve Hanson wanted when he hired Fabio Trabocchi. Bruni admits the place isn’t Italian, but he is in love with the ultrarich, ultracomposed food. [NYT] Market Table took over the space that was Shopsin’s, and this gave the Randall Lane the good idea of reviewing both restaurants at the same time. Market Table earns four stars (out of six, mind you) for its solid food and gracious service. Kenny, in his new digs at Essex Street Market, gets three for his still terrific food and his not-so-gracious service. [TONY] The Fiamma review should wash away any melancholy caused by Alan Richman’s lukewarm number on Primehouse, Fiamma’s sister. Richman likes the steaks pretty well and singles out crab cake for enthusiastic praise, but he casts a skeptical eye on pretty much everything else, from its resident bull-god to the Himalayan salt aging room. [Bloomberg]
  5. NewsFeed
    Gawker Lays Hate on Restaurant Girl Danyelle FreemanNow that Bruni Digest author Julia Langbein is blogging for Gourmet, you don’t hear many jabs at Frank’s purple prose anymore. Enter Gawker, which yesterday took aim at a much fresher target in not one but three posts skewering Danyelle Freeman, a.k.a. “Restaurant Hurl.” Somehow we don’t think Gawker’s back-to-back parody reviews — which focused on a sandwich we eat about three times a week, Despaña’s El Quixote — will cause Freeman’s future dispatches to be any less florid and torrid.
  6. 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]
  7. The Other Critics
    Pamplona Given a New Lease on Life; Bobo Hit HardAlex Ureña’s somewhat mainstreamed restaurant, Pamplona, earns the catchall two-star rating from Frank Bruni — a great victory for them, since it legitimizes the restaurant and puts it on the solid footing it desperately needed. Bruni doesn’t sound especially impressed, however: “His best dishes are more than memorable enough to redeem Pamplona’s shortcomings.” Well, that’s good! [NYT] Critics tend to like writing about restaurants that fail badly in one way (such as the food) while succeeding in another, less important way (such as the room). That disjunction gives Danyelle Freeman free rein to jump with both feet onto Bobo. [NYDN] Randall Lane checks in on the two newly opened Mexican restaurants, Toloache and Los Dados and likes them both okay, but he has changed his ways and is now throwing around stars like they were manhole covers: three (of six) for Toloache, home of the famous grasshopper taco, and two for meatpacking trendhole Los Dados. [TONY]
  8. The Other Critics
    A Star Swap for Alto & L’Impero; No Amore for Richman at FiammaThe Times’ verdict is in on Alto and L’Impero, and it’s the expected three and two stars, respectively. Lost in the Alto upgrade is the hard fact that L’Impero now enters the dreaded two-star limbo into which Frank Bruni puts any place neither transcendent nor mediocre. Personally, we would have had it at four and three. [NYT] Alan Richman admires the new Fiamma (former home to Mike White) in a cool and distant way, finding the food busy and not at all Italian, although not exactly lousy by any means. No one will read this review and want to spend money to eat at Fiamma. [Bloomberg] On the other hand, Restaurant Girl’s three-star review reads like a perfume ad, it’s so loving: “Like an artist, he paints deeply flavored ragu onto a pappardelle canvas, finished with tender ribbons of venison.” Ew! But Steve Hanson must be happy. [NYDN]
  9. The Other Critics
    Three Versions of Tailor; Paul Adams Bugs OutDanyelle Freeman hits Tailor and finds its tiny menu and weird food ill-fitting the talents involved. “Mason glimpses at genius…” Restaurant Girl says, but “[y]ou leave Tailor still craving dessert.” Ouch! [NYDN] Moira Hodgson likes Tailor a little, giving the place two stars and only bemoaning the fact that there wasn’t more of the food. “But the tastes were so tantalizing I came back another night to try everything again,” she says. [NYO] And then there’s Randall Lane, who gives Tailor a four-star review. (Of course, that’s out of six.) Still, it’s a lot, but it seems to be mostly for Eben Freeman’s cocktails. Lane found the food, especially the “sweet” half of the menu, to be a pretty mixed bag. [TONY]
  10. Mediavore
    Chodorow’s Got Big, Big Plans; Aaron Sanchez Has an EnemyJeffrey Chodorow is devising a new megarestaurant for a 15,000-square-foot double-decker space in the Empire Hotel at Broadway and 63rd Street. In other news, Frank Bruni has already given it zero stars. [NYP] Our pal Aaron Sanchez barely avoided being cut on the Next Iron Chef since according to Bourdain, Alton “Knowlton seems not to have disclosed a prior schoolyard incident with a young Aaron ‘El Guapo’ Sanchez — in which Sanchez (it would appear) bullied him mercilessly. He seemed unnaturally eager to send him packing.” [Ruhlman] Williamsburg’s Hasidic community has its own street-food truck, but you too can buy the kosher grub. [Eat for Victory/VV]
  11. The Other Critics
    One Star and Thirteen Recommended Dishes for Centro Vinoteca; BLT Market TakesAnother somewhat capricious Frank Bruni review: He gives Centro Vinoteca one star, praising nearly everything he ate (there are thirteen recommended dishes) but complaining about the noise and crowds on the first floor and presumably on that basis withholding a second star. [NYT] Danyelle Freeman is so not impressed with BLT Market. According to her, the ingredients themselves aren’t even that good! But she likes the place enough to give it two stars anyway. [NYDN] The usually harder-to-please Alan Richman, on the other hand, had a much higher estimation of the place, except for the part about it smelling like shit. But that, he hopes, will pass with the warm weather. [Bloomberg]
  12. The Other Critics
    Kudos to Park Avenue Autumn; Jeers to the Five GuysPark Avenue Autumn’s gimmicky concept might have turned Frank Bruni catty but for the fact that Craig Konketsu’s cooking is so flawlessly brilliant. The place got two stars, and the review reads like three. [NYT] Paul Adams must be a happy man today just for the headline he came up with for his positive review of the cheese-centric newcomer Casellula: “The Cheese Stands Alone.” It sounds like it does, too, with what might be the best macaroni and cheese going. [NYS] Peter Meehan puts the Five Guys, and their deliberately dried-out, overrated burger, in their place; Julia Moskin gives Market Table its first praise, a measured and thoughtful mini-review. [NYT]
  13. The Other Critics
    Wakiya Earns a Second Bagel; Meehan Mistreated at BarFryWakiya’s brief flirtation with the possibility of success seems to be over, now that Frank Bruni has concurred with Adam Platt by handing the restaurant what seems to be a well-deserved bagel. How long before it goes down for the dirt nap is anybody’s guess. [NYT] Alan Richman, by the way, hates the place even worse. You don’t even have to look beyond his subheads: “Preening.” “Small Portions.” “Incomprehensible Menu.” The bottom line? The place is wildly expensive and “Wakiya suffers from an absence of delights.” To say the least. [Bloomberg] Peter Meehan, though taking care to praise Josh DeChellis’s cold dishes, had what sounds like a series of awful experiences at BarFry, with terrible service issues. Talk about picking the wrong guy to leave stranded with bottles in his hands! [NYT]
  14. Mediavore
    D. Freeman vs. A. Platt; Ditch Your Topps MeatFor the first time Danyelle Freeman is one step behind Adam Platt in her review choice, and she matches his star selection for Accademia di Vino. [NYDN] Related: Molto Trendy [NYM] Blue Ribbon at Six Columbus is expected to open in a couple of weeks. [Eater] Related: Blue Ribbon Sushi at Columbus Circle Will Open in October Hung offers insight into DiSpirito’s comment that the Top Chef contestant reminds him of himself: “He’s confident, he’s cocky, he’s good looking … his technique is on, his flavor profile is my kind of food. I respect him a lot.” [Eat for Victory/VV]
  15. The Other Critics
    Gemma Rewarded for Its Calculations; Tailor Makes a FanFrank Bruni, surprisingly grants Gemma a single star. Bruni sees the place as a slicker, less technically accomplished Morandi — an insta-enoteca calculated to the nth degree to please modern middlebrows. Which, we guess, is worth a single star these days. [NYT] Ryan Sutton is, as usual, the first to review Tailor, which he finds a molecular wonderland of trippy but delicious foods: exactly what a certain kind of restaurantgoer needs to hear to get the buzz going. [Bloomberg] Moira Hodgson thinks that Alex Ureña’s new direction at Pamplona — modern, imaginative Spanish cookery minus the bells and whistles — is exactly what he needed and rewards him with two stars. “So this is bistro food? I don’t care what he calls it, it’s great.” [NYO]
  16. Neighborhood Watch
    Chicken & Beer a Chelsea Favorite; Miraculous Iced Tea From Midtown EastAstoria: Check out photos of both the interior and the baked goods at newly opened coffeehouse the Soleil Cafe, on Astoria Boulevard South near 38th Street. [Joey in Astoria] Chelsea: There goes the neighborhood: a sushi restaurant at 23rd Street has been replaced by a new spot called Chicken & Beer. “What next, ‘Hamburgers and Crack?’” [Blog Chelsea] Klee Brasserie has added dishes like Lowenbrau sauerkraut with Kobe bratwurst and warm apple strudel to its menu in honor of Oktoberfest. [Eat for Victory/VV] Clinton Hill: Thirty-year-old Gourmet Kitchen closes for good on September 30. [Clinton Hill Blog] East Village: The Joy of Sake (with all its tasty bites) is this Thursday. [NYM] Lower East Side: Rosario’s Pizza isn’t good but should be honored because “there should always be room in every NYC neighborhood for a basic slice joint.” [Lost City] Midtown East: New Japanese tea and sweet shop Tafu, on 51st Street near Third Avenue, not only serves extraordinary brews but also an imported thermos which keeps ice frozen for seventeen hours. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
  17. The Other Critics
    Bruni Finds Bar Stuzzichini Good Enough; Sietsema Worships InsiemeFrank Bruni gives Bar Stuzzichini one star, praising its small plates (which give him his obligatory Zeitgeist paragraphs at the top) and then pointing out that the room and service are basically that of a “midtown mess hall.” The moral? Aim low, price right, and execute, and the critics will give you the guarded praise you need to stay open. [NYT] Here’s one we never would have predicted in a million years: Insieme getting the panegyric it deserves from Robert “horsehead soup in the Bronx” Sietsema. Interestingly, the one thing he didn’t like was the lasagne, which was the place’s proudest boast when it first opened. [VV] We predicted recently that it was just a matter of time before someone came down on Wakiya, but we never dreamed it would be Danyelle Freeman. She hits the place hard, mostly for the “dull” and “skimpy” food but, not a killer at heart, gives them credit for service, cocktails, and soup dumplings. But it won’t be long before another, meaner critic really lets it fly. [NYND]
  18. The Other Critics
    Franny’s Gets the All-Purpose Two Stars; Southern Hospitality Praised forFranny’s is the recipient of one of Frank Bruni’s periodic low-end caprices, and gets awarded an absurd two stars as a result. [NYT] Paul Lukas, a pretty serious student of barbecue, delivers the verdict on the new barbecues, and the surprise is that Southern Hospitality has some pretty damn good Memphis ribs. Hill Country, it goes without saying, gets lauded as the best BBQ in town. [NYS] Related: Insatiable Critic: Southern Hospitality “Rivulets of delicious grease are a common theme” is the key note to Paul Adams’s review of Borough Food and Drink. Mmmm…grease…. [NYS]