Bar Boulud, Loved at Last; Cuozzo Not on the Dovetail Bandwagon“It’s a new era, and Bar Boulud belongs to it.” That’s why, even though the hot items are mostly “snoozers,” the restaurant deserves two stars. Another Zeitgeist review from Frank Bruni. [NYT]
Steve Cuozzo doesn’t give out stars, but if he did, he wouldn’t be giving three to Dovetail, whose stellar critical reception he recapitulates in a forceful, acerbic review. “The Times’ Frank Bruni, who found ‘drab’ décor at Anthos a reason to deny that truly original, forward-Greek place three stars, overlooked Dovetail’s butt-ugly brown palette to exult over the likes of — holy cow! — monkfish and lobster on the same plate.” [NYP]
Writing on his GQ blog, Alan Richman obliterates Brasserie Les Halles, but why? Who was thinking about it, anyway? And who thought it was good? The review seems conceived as a blow against Tony Bourdain, but it does him no harm. [GQ]
A Guide to Recognizing Your Restaurants: Smith’s v. The Smith
Ever since Smith’s opened in Greenwich Village late last year and The Smith opened in the East Village soon thereafter, foodies have been a little confused. Both spots have achieved some popularity, which makes this a far more befuddling case than the one of B. Smith versus Smith’s in Hell’s Kitchen. To help you tell one from the other (we’re aware the above photos don’t do that), we’ve broken it down in a handy chart.
Full Houses at Gottino and El Quinto Pino, Room to Spare at Bar BlancLast time we ran a Spot Check, we dropped in on several newly opened East Village restaurants between the hours of 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. to take head counts (though in the case of Cantina, there were no heads to be counted). This Saturday we threw some love to the West Side and repeated the procedure with six new establishments in the West Village and Chelsea.
In the Magazine
Alain Ducasse Tries to Win Our Love
New York City hasn’t been kind to Alain Ducasse. But after reading this week’s big feature on the world’s most-starred chef and his latest effort to make New York love him, we find it hard to believe that he doesn’t have a fighting chance. Adam Platt somehow manages to appreciate delicacy this week and gives Smith’s an enthusiastic two-star review. Finally, Rob and Robin bring us two things sure to warm the insides of any New Yorker in January: Charles Gabriel’s collard greens and the hot cocktails at three of New York’s best bars.
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]
The Other Critics
Primehouse’s Steak Saves Its Star; BarFry BlastedThe best steaks at Primehouse NY are good enough to earn a single star from Frank Bruni — which is saying something, given that he had problems with service, didn’t like the other entrées, and even found the rib eyes to be less than they ought to be. But the Creekstone strips carried the day, as they always do. [NYT]
The small, porky tapas at Jason Neroni’s Cantina seem to impress Robert Sietsema, but his review leaves you with the sense that, croquettes aside, the place is still a work-in-progress. [VV]
Paul Adams dines at Smith’s and praises the rich, possibly too rich, appetizers, while frowning over some of the mains. But on the whole he likes the place: “Some dishes are excessive by design, others poorly executed in the heat of the dinner rush, and a few, like the pasta, remarkably good and worthy of a return visit — perhaps after the first wave of crowds has moved on.” [NYS]
Tom and Gisele Lock Lips at Nobu, ‘Full House’ Cast and the B-52sEarlier this week we linked to a Daily News item claiming Padma Lakshmi rudely refused complimentary dishes from Fiamma’s chef. A commenter wrote, “I was at Fiamma the night Padma was dining there and it absolutely did NOT go down that way. When the dishes arrived at the table, she thanked them profusely and apologized for being too full to eat any of them!” Whatever happened, Padma was just one of many celebs to chow down (or at least show up) at local restaurants this week, and here’s our gossip-column compendium of just who went where.
Smith’s Plays Stevie Wonder, Thievery Corporation, and Bud PowellJust because we couldn’t care less what a chef is playing in the kitchen doesn’t mean we aren’t curious about what’s playing in the dining room — the better to avoid spots that blast “Who Let the Dogs Out” (we’ll give El Sombrero a pass for playing “La Macarena” because, well, it’s El Sombrero). And if they’re playing Weezer’s “The World Has Turned” like Momofuku was Sunday night, we’re there with cowbells on. That’s why every week we’ll pick a new or notable eatery and list ten songs you might hear there. This week: Smith’s, the new one from Danny Abrams and Cindy Smith.
Havana Chelsea, R.I.P.; Pigs Feet Run Amok in West VillageChelsea: Havana Chelsea, one of the city’s top cubano sandwich spots, is no more. It will be replaced by Casa Havana. [Eat for Victory]
Flatiron: Hampton Smoker blogger and barbecue savant Matt Fisher will be the pitmaster at Wildwood BBQ [White Trash BBQ]
Lower East Side: ZoZos, Pizzeria De Santos give up the ghost. It’s a noodle bar town now. [American Madness]
Related: Happy Valley Owners to Launch Pizza Empire
Red Hook: Layla’s, the replacement for the late, lamented Lillie’s, is coming along. [Citysearch]
SoHo: Provence has instituted happy hour, with $8 champagne and, more to the point, $2 oysters. [Strong Buzz]
West Village: It’s all about pig feet at Hakata Tonton: “It’s as if chef/owner Himi Okajima watched the Bubba scene in Forrest Gump one day and replaced all mention of the word shrimp with pigs feet. Tonsoku carbonara, tonsoku rice ball, tonsoku consommé, sweet and sour pork with tonsoku…” [Gothamist]
Dom De Marco’s Hands of Steel; Smith’s Opens Tonight in the South VillageAstoria: The Sparrow’s pain perdu dessert is “basically a grilled chocolate croissant with homemade butterscotch syrup on it, with a dollop of real whipped cream on the side.” [Joey in Astoria]
Harlem: Doug E.’s Fresh Chicken and Waffles still isn’t ready to open. [Uptown Flavor]
Gramercy: Blue Smoke takes top honors in this roundup of the city’s best sweet-potato fries. [Gridskipper]
Greenwich Village: Smith’s from this week’s Openings starts serving tonight. [Eater]
Midwood: Yes, Dom De Marco’s pies at Di Fara’s are impressive, but what’s really cause for amazement is “his asbestos hands. That man can pull a square pie out of the oven, which must be about 800 degrees, with his bare hands.” [Eat for Victory/VV]
Nolita: Public’s butternut-squash soup with spiced marshmallows, crispy chickpeas, and pumpkin-seed oil is just one example in this list of fall dishes showing up all over town. [Restaurant Girl]
Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Meytex Lounge is now calling itself Meytex Cafe, but their tasty fried chicken hasn’t changed. [Across the Park]
In the Magazine
It’s a Haute Barnyard Type of Week in New York
“The doctrine of seasonal correctness is as ingrained in the collective restaurant psyche, these day, as linen napkins, pre-dinner cocktails, and superfluous baskets of bread,” Adam Platt writes in his review of Park Avenue Autumn, and who are we to argue? The combined efforts of Platt, the Robs, and Gael Greene all point to the triumph of the seasonal aesthetic. But that’s not to say they aren’t fun. Platt gives two stars to Park Avenue Autumn, Gael seems fairly pleased with Irving Mill, and the Robs introduce three restaurants (Lunetta, Bacaro, and Smith’s) that are all about fresh ingredients, as well as a recipe for Bosc pears that is, of course, in season. Meanwhile, back at the Greenmarket, a long-overdue crusade against plastic bags is at work. And, though not an expression of the Haute Barnyard mystique, it’s very much a sign of the times: PDT has named a hot dog for David Chang — proof that the Original Soupman has made it to the big time at last.