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Week in Reviews

It's Wednesday, which means a whole seven days have passed since we played the Who's Up Who's Down game, in which we spend a couple of minutes listening intently to those nutty NY food critics.

Last week, two stars was like fellatio; this week, we discover how that verdict can be slightly less satisfying. Then, we take the temperature of another BBQ joint; we get the update on a relocated bold-faced name; and peer into the future of the BLT empire.

1) First things first. Bruni caughs up two stars for Alto, Scott Conant's sequel to L'Impero. Here's a taste:

But Mr. Conant's recurring desire to be subtle, to veer away from convention and head in a more rarefied direction, sometimes lands him in a whispery realm of muffled effects. Both the gnocchi with crab and the farfalle with sweetbreads seemed incomplete and not fully integrated, perhaps because the saucing was stinting, the seasoning timid.

This is very bad news, people. The problem with two stars for Alto is that L'Impero got three. (Talk about an awkward moment at the next family picnic.) For 99% of all chefs, two stars from the Times is bliss. But for Conant, a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2004 and a "NYC gastro-darling" according to Rosati over at DC, this is a setback. Now he's looking at a minimum of two years before he gets another shot at the big time, namely a NYT four-star review. (Credit Platt for weighing-in early with a similarly middling verdict.)

2) Then there's R.U.B. (not to be confused with Rib), which received a generally positive review in NY Mag. Reading about another BBQ joint nearly put us to sleep, but Platt seemed to be happy with his experience in the end and recommends you try the Baron's Down Home Pig Pick'n, which consists of an entire pork butt hoisted to the table with bread slices, pickles, and four silver tongs. If Eater had a nickel for every time a chef tried to wow us with pork butt and silver tongs...

3) The Observer has a look at the relocated Craftbar and was disappointed to see higher prices, a "cavernous and noisy" dining room, and inconsistent food.

Mr. Nawab tries some daring combinations of ingredients in his main-course fish dishes, a feat he often pulls off. It was a shame that the baked wild king salmon was dry. (Since wild salmon has less fat than its farm-raised equivalent, it's easily overcooked.) It came with braised radicchio, rhubarb, summer truffles and fresh peas. Poached halibut was also overcooked, but stinging nettles, zucchini and ni