[The Kalina, obvs. Top: Ted's Montana Grill; Bottom: Lonesome Dove.]
1) First up, the Cuozz files on Lonesome Dove and Ted's Montana Grill and is not pleased. He is bored and, if this is what they call Urban Western, he's not a buyer:
You expect better of Lonesome Dove. Chef/owner Tim Love is all over the Ponderosa with a stampede of James Beard honors, TV appearances, a vineyard, lines of bottled sauces and cookware products, plus a promotional trail drive complete "with horses and camera crew."Though we have to discount this review to an extent given its early bird timing, these are damning words, indeed. He doesn't have much good to say about Ted's either, but does note the geinus of Turner having set up in the lobby of the Time-Life building, where Turner was famously axed. [NYP]
You'd think a guy with so many revenue streams would spring for a designer, but Love crafted the place himself. The result is the dimmest, noisiest void north of the Rio Grande, with eerie Western paintings under SoHo-like ceiling pipes. A deer antler chandelier suggests not the Great Plains but a Goth club liquidation.
The Dove boasts a smartly chosen, California-rich wine list. But for a place where you expect straightforward, vivid flavors redolent of Big Sky Country, almost everything is seasoned for convalescents.
Anorexic antelope ribs needed a steak knife to extract slivers of nondescript meat. "Buffalo" corn dogs come with "chipotle ketchup" like watered-down Heinz.
The kitchen knows how to brine pork tenderloin and lay on a coffee and cocoa rub; the result, served with crisp onion rings, suggests there's something to Love's reputation. So does juicy, crisp-crusted duck breast. But a wretched New Zealand red deer chop tastes as old and gray as it looks.
If this is the grub that won the West, I'll never cross the Hudson again.
Ahead, the early word on Gilt, Platt on Itals Centovini and Bread Tribeca and more Elsewhere than you can possiblly handle.
2) Ryan Sutton for Bloomberg has the early word on Christoper Lee's new, and perhaps improved, Gilt. He notes that "everything looks the same," though the menu, as promised, quite different:
[I]f Liebrandt's cuisine was hyperactive, Lee's is hyper- restrained. Braised pork belly could have overwhelmed a soup of Jerusalem artichokes with a piggy punch, yet the meat barely registered above the creamy broth and sweet shards of apple.Encouraging news for Lee and Gilt's backers, indeed. [Bloomberg]
Langoustines exhibited no brininess; instead, they were roasted in butter and covered with gossamer slices of lomo. Close your eyes, and the air-cured swine could pass for rice paper.
3) Our man at New York, Adam Platt, turns in a two-fer of his own this week, two- and one-starring Centovini and Bread Tribeca, respectively. Interesting because little has been written on the first and the second is Sara Jenkins' kitchen; and double interesting, perhaps, because given Jenkins presence, the star distribution might have been the opposite. But Centovini is Platt's fave of the two:
The menu she and Marzovilla have put together [at Cenovini] is straightforward Italian, with a few seasonal flourishes, but the restaurant’s modest size, and the focus on wine, give everything an extra, unexpected punch. My wife, that champion of dainty dining establishments, ordered a glass of Umbrian white (’04 Tenuta Le Velette) with her bowl of pappardelle with wild mushrooms one night. She took a sip of wine, then a bite of noodles, put down her fork, and pronounced herself satisfied. “Everything’s yummy,” she said. I had a similar reaction to the nicely sizzled Italian sausages, served as an appetizer over sautéed onions and peppers, and the butternut-squash soup, which was dotted with cranberry beans and crumblings of pancetta. The pastas (handmade by Marzovilla’s beloved mama) are all good, particularly the pappardelle and the maccheroncini, doused with the rich house Bolognese sauce.Less by way of praise went to Bread Tribeca, but in the context of the Mets and their World Series bid, we'll note that Bread is the venue that combines wine, gourmet pasta and a 50" plasma screen. [NYM]
Elsewhere, Moskin two-stars the Morgan Dining Room, Dana Bowen for $25 and Under at Palo Santo, Gridskipper on a press meal at STK, Paul Adams at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Jason Perlow at Four Seasons, Augieland at Boqueria, Marc Shepherd at Little Owl, and $20-a-Day at Wo Hop.