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Week in Reviews: Russian Tea Room like 'coach'

1) When the history books are written on Frank Bruni's reign, The Age of Two Stars will be said to have preceded Bruni's Wild Card Period, during which no chef could feel safe. The Bruni one-stars Gary Robins's Russian Tea Room today in a review for the ages. After getting through the usual pleasantries, The Frank gets to work:

More than a few dishes weren’t so successful. Tea-smoked sturgeon had an acrid aftertaste. The chicken Kiev, unexpectedly straightforward, did a rubbery impersonation of airline food, and I mean coach. There are nearly a dozen kinds of caviar — foreign, domestic, wild, farmed — and several of the ones I tried had an excessively pasty texture, lacking any bouncy pop.
He means coach, people. Not first class, where he usually sits. Coach. It only gets uglier from there and we encourage a click-through for the full experience. Also, for those of you opening restaurants in fall of '07, Gary Robins may be available. [NYT]

2) Paul Adams files on Jason Neroni's Porchetta today. It is mostly positive, save for the porchetta:

The namesake porchetta ($22) is...a little too plain for its own good. The thick slices of roast pork are tender, but their delicate flavor never really emerges, and dousings of preserved tomato and aged balsamic do little to bring it out. But the flavor in a sliced leg of lamb ($20) can hardly be restrained: luxuriously buttery "melted" cauliflower purée pools around it, and an anchovy-mint salad adds a pert accent that could be Italian or Vietnamese. An unusual preparation of short ribs of beef ($20) gives the dish a steak-like appeal. The braised meat has a crunchy, savory top crust that contrasts with its becomingly fatty middle, and wears a steak's accessories: lumps of pungent Gorgonzola, and a mustard-green cream that's a lot like creamed spinach, as well as those firm, faintly sweet candied kalamatas.
Adams verdict: 'mouthwatering.'[NYS]

3) Peter Meehan for $25 and Under examines Fort Greene's The Smoke Joint. About their self-proclaimed 'real New York barbecue,' the doctor is mostly pleased:
Though [the restaurant's barbecue pit] is far smaller and less technologically advanced than those employed by Manhattan’s best barbecue purveyors, the Smoke Joint guys haven’t let size stop them from turning out some commendable ’cue.

The beef short ribs ($14), two hulking ribs to an order, were the best thing they served. The short ribs’ elementally beefy flavor was well served by the moderate smokiness they picked up in the pit and the faint hit of salt and spice thrown into the mix by a dry rub.


Elsewhere, Robert Sietsema at Perry Street, Randall Lane at Mai House, Bob Lape at Megu Midtown, Andrea Strong at Boco Luppo, Cutlets on Pasty's at Aviator, Ryan Sutton on Kobe Club and Dennis Foy, Tables at Russian Tea Room and Mona's Apple at Chanterelle.