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Week in Reviews: InTent, Spotted Pig, Noodle Bar

[Kalina, 8/3/06.]

1) Subbing for a vacationing (and blogging) Bruni, Julia Moskin one-stars InTent. There's plenty good, but:

In my meals at InTent, I was often sorely tempted to send back my food — not because it was bad, but because so many dishes seemed like excellent ideas that were stomped on by a lack of last-minute attention to flavor.

It’s one thing to get an underdone steak, but I have never before wanted to return a well-seasoned eggplant tagine to the kitchen for 10 minutes’ more cooking, or tender roasted pork ribs so that the chef could balance out the sweetness with more heat...

In too many cases, I could see where the chef was going, but the food hadn’t arrived there.

All is not lost, though. In conclusion, "It’s an aromatic reminder that in food, innovation can turn up anywhere — even in New York’s most five-minutes-ago neighborhood." [NYT]

2) Alan Richman, who never met a restaurant he couldn't complain about, complains this week about Spotted Pig, where amidst highs like the gnudi, there are lows like 3.14 square foot tables:

The Spotted Pig is the epicenter of alternative dining in New York, a ridiculously cramped gastro-pub in the West Village where you suffer physically and usually eat well. On that first visit, my friend and I shared a round table I calculated to be precisely 3.14 square feet. (Yes, I brought a tape measure.) A normal restaurant table for two is about six. Here's the scary part: Other tables are smaller.

No bread was offered; no room. Our wine bottle tipped over in the stream of passing patrons, and my trousers got soaked with 2003 Vacqueyras, nicely priced at $36. After that, I ordered only white, a precaution I heartily recommend. (Another good reason: The reds come too warm.)

And the rest of the review is spot-on, too. This is the one you'll want to read all the way through. [Bloomberg]

Ahead, Robert Sietsema at Noodle Bar and, that's right, Elsewhere.

3) Robert Sietsema goes to Noodle Bar this week, the Asian carb emporium on Carmine Street. It's mostly just a pretty good noodle bar, Sietsy concludes, but:

Noodle Bar's wildest invention is an Asian version of the Cuban sandwich ($9). The generous length of baguette appears prettily decorated with giant green caper berries, looking like alien invaders crawling over your sandwich. Inside, slices of pork and Spam are topped with melted Swiss and Korean kimchee, which provides an agreeable sourness and a small amount of heat. Some love this sandwich, while others hate it. Somewhat ironically, the best thing on four visits was the Cantonese fried rice ($7). I say ironic, because the dish is not reconstructed, but simply refined. The veggies are micro-minced so their flavors bond better with the rice, and anise-laced Chinese sausage provides extra oomph! And you won't find anything quite like it in Chinatown.
Persuasive, indeed, coming from a man who may or may not have some knowledge of Chinatown. [VV]

Elsewhere, Adam Platt at Robuchon, Craftsteak takes another beating, this time from Hodgson, Paul Adams at Boqueria, Peter Meehan at La Tortillería Mexicana Los Hermanos, Tables for Two at Ssam Bar, Andrea Strong at Eleven Madison Park, Blackbook at Core One Nine One, Peter Cherches at Florence's, NYC Crumbs at Bar Carrera, and Two Spoons Please at InTent.

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