Chicken to the Rescue at Blue Ribbon Sushi; The Smith Hit HardThe latest Blue Ribbon Sushi gets a whopping two stars from Frank Bruni, despite its titular sushi being not that great. No, it’s the souped-up fried chicken that added a star, making this two weeks in a row that poultry has saved the day. [NYT]
Paul Adams hits new East Village comfort-food zone the Smith with one of his rare bad reviews — generally, he finds the food clumsy and gross: “A main course of lamb schnitzel ($17) shows what the kitchen can do at its best: not particularly much.” Ouch! [NYS]
Nor was Danyelle Freeman especially enthralled with Brasserie 44, which got one and a half stars out of four. Her recollections of its food seem highly detailed, suggesting that she didn’t leave her notebook behind. [NYDN]
Related: So the Critic Left Her (?) Notes. So What?
The Other Critics
Two Angles on Cafe Cluny; Meehan Devours ‘Avian Oddities’Loud, crowded and unimaginative, Cafe Cluny still hews closely enough to the Balthazar mold in both the front and back of the house to earn one star from Bruni. [NYT]
Paul Adams likes Cluny even better, calling the food “impressive,” and laying off the cultural context. He’s just here for the duck. [NYS]
Meanwhile, Peter Meehan is fascinated by the “avian oddities” served at all-chicken spot Yakitori Torys and writes enthusiastically, though not exactly convincingly, of the joys of eating chicken bones and necks. [NYT]
The Other Critics
Love Gets No Love From Bruni; Strong Falls in Love With Self at Cafe ClunyBruni shares Platt’s horror over Lonesome Dove’s “hairy and scary” welcome mat and agrees the “mistakes don’t end at the front door.” For one, the quail quesadillas and rabbit empanadas taste like, well, chicken. Still, it’s not all bluster: “Mr. Love seems dedicated to getting first-rate cuts of meat, and if the rub-happy kitchen goes overboard in seasoning them, especially with salt and pepper, it certainly knows how to cook many of them.” [NYT]
Forget the two-hour rule at Ramsay at the London: Paul Adams fumes over getting bum-rushed at Goblin Market: “When a place goes to such lengths to make it clear that they don’t want customers, I for one am glad to oblige.” [NYS]
At David Burke’s Hawaiian Tropic Zone, the dishes taste “like they came from a war zone, not a tropic zone.” But then again “at a human zoo like this, the quality of the food just doesn’t matter.” [TONY]
In the Magazine
Gael Goes to the Port Authority; Ramsay Arrives, Presumably by Plane• In openings, Rob and Robin give pride of place to this week’s biggie, the British superchef Gordon Ramsay’s maiden New York venture, Gordon Ramsay at the London; signal the arrival of Pera Mediterranean Brasserie, a relatively ambitious Turkish restaurant in midtown; and acknowledge a new red-sauce restaurant, Dean’s Family Style Restaurant and Pizzeria (801 Second Ave., nr. 43rd St.; 212-878-9600).
New York Restaurant Openings and Buzz
• Gael Greene goes to Metro Marché at the Port Authority and gives what has to be the best review ever received by a restaurant in a bus station: “Amazingly good brasserie dishes at astonishingly gentle prices.”
• Given that so much restaurant profit comes from the bar, you have to wonder why it took so long for restaurants to attach lounges. Rob and Robin look at four new ones: the Greek Kava Lounge, EN Shochu Bar (Japanese), and the eclectic Monday Room and Wined Up wine bars. All open over the next couple of weeks.
Rooms With Booze
The Other Critics
Raves for Picholine and Porter House New York; Everybody Else Damned With FaintBruni has his birthday party at “reinvigorated” Picholine and, to the tune of three stars, declares it “arguably the nicest restaurant surprise of this disappointing season.” [NYT]
Meehan has mixed feelings about Lunetta but concedes: “Mr. Shepard can cook.” [NYT]
Alan Richman goes slumming at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and finds signs of promise at best. “Metro Marche is not a great restaurant. Unless Escoffier takes over the kitchen, it will never be a fashionable one. It could become quite respectable, though.” [Bloomberg]
Back of the House
Two Starrs, Another Frederick’s, and More Tables at BabboThe latest comings and goings: Restaurants spawn offshoots, Stephen Starr throws a couple more chips down, and Babbo opens its basement.
Regina Schrambling explains the insanity of our big-box restaurants to Los Angelenos: “Everything about the trend should feel wrong, but somehow it connects in this changing city.” [LAT]
Starr “looking to do two more concepts” downtown: tapas and (hold your breath) another Asian. [NYP]
The Flo chart: Dennis Foy, the man behind Mondrian and EQ, comes home to roost at Lo Scalco; Sushi of Gari, Frederick’s, Pastrami Queen, and Persepolis relocate or branch out; and more. [NYT]
A profile of Compass’s John Fraser, just named a “chef to watch” by Esquire. [NYDN]
Da Bronx snubbed by Zagat? [NYDN]
Babbo now lets you dine in the wine cellar. [Eater]