1) As expected Frank Bruni three-stars Picholine, becoming the third Times critic to do so. Points are awarded not for the dining room make-over, but for the one that's taken place in the kitchen:
Many dishes are new. Most are fantastic. What Picholine lacks in energy and style — it’s still too quiet and it’s sadistically bright — it more than makes up for in first-rate ingredients and superior execution.Hat tip to Brennan, who was able to pull this off while managing an empire. Jennifer Baum, your work here is done. [NYT]
Start with the Roquefort parfait. Decadently creamy and rich, it is skirted with sliced endive and pear and placed over a Sauternes jelly: a commingling of tangy, bitter and sweet notes; a communion of wine and cheese at the start of the meal.
2) Alan Richman braves the Port Authority to inspect Metro Marche, which it turns out is bad, but could be worse and does show potential:
Little of the food is unredeemable. Maybe not Le Grand Plateau, which turned out to be not so grand, a single level of adequate cold shellfish. The cocktail sauce, though, is fruity and so flavorful you'll want to dip everything in it. The Caesar salad can go -- it's basically just greens with cheese and a few anchovies plopped on top....Will he be back? "Certainly. I miss this kind of food." [Bloomberg]
The mussels mariniere were just fine, except the garlicky broth was soaked up by a huge chunk of bread in the bowl. A friend complained, ``Why does the bread get all the sauce and not me?'' Country pate was a treat -- chunky, moist, fruity and peppery. French onion soup was perfectly prepared and thoughtfully modest in quantity. The half-duck seemed to be confit, with skin so crunchy it tasted as though it had been crisped in a frying pan.
Ahead, Lonesome Dove under the microscope again and more Elsewhere than you know what to do with.
3) Paul Adams digs in at Lonesome Dove and there is good news and bad news. Too much rub on everything is the bad news. Here is the good news:
There's an unkind Texan phrase used to describe something that's showy but lacking substance: "All hat, no cattle." Lonesome Dove is brimming with literal cattle, starting at the cowhide rug, but it's also not entirely without metaphorical cattle. The "prairie butter" is delicious; and a dark-horse main course of lamb chops ($26) is fantastic. Two double rib chops from a succulent Australian animal, seared with raspberry reduction, show dramatically what the chef can do when he eases off on the drama. Under its savory crust, the meat is buttery and bursting with flavor — its own flavor — and a rich mushroom bread pudding on the side still lingers in fond memory.Like those who have reviewed before him, Adams makes hostile mention of the $125 tomahawk chop, though he doesn't dwell on it. All-in, probably the best review for Tim Love's NY experiment to date. [NY Sun]
Elsewhere, Bruniblog at Jekyll and Hyde, Tony Randall four-out-of-six-stars Lunetta, Hodgson two-stars Porter House, Sietsema at Bellavitae, Project Me at Ba Xuyen, Two Spoons at Artisinal, and the RG at Russian Tea Room.