[Tasting Room, by Kalina, 8/9/06.]
1) Up first today, Peter Meehan has his way with burger joint obsession du jour, BLT Burger. Meehan doesn't understand: turning the 'Maybach of meat' in hamburgers (the $62 kobe offering). Meehan will tolerate: the entry level burger "in a kind of haute Whopper way." Meehan say what is on his mind:
...in the end, I was left with the impression that no one in the kitchen is paying attention to these sandwiches. I doubt Mr. L. T. himself is to blame, because at BLT Fish Shack, the casual adjunct to his restaurant BLT Fish, you can get a very good, beefy hamburger on a sturdy sesame seed bun. The kitchen cooks it to your specifications. It is served with fries that taste as if they’re made from potatoes, not dragged out of the back of a freezer truck, like the ones at BLT Burger do.Meehan, the man, the myth, the sound-byte: "...no aficionado of the real thing will feel at home in this cynically contrived approximation of one." [NYT]
2) In Bruniville it's two- and one stars for Tocqueville and Tasting Room, respectively. Both venues retain their previously awarded stars, but despite the aspirations of each, there will be no upgrades for anyone today. At Tocqueville, the Bruni is mostly pleased. After an early knife-twist -- "Why attempt such fussiness if you can’t ace it?" -- his soft side comes out:
Whether the dish is wild salmon wrapped in Savoy cabbage, lobster with spaghetti squash and a saffron emulsion, or roasted chicken with morels and a parsnip purée, Mr. Moreira’s kitchen can be counted on to make the meat or seafood as tender as can be and to give it lively company.As for Tasting Room, Bruni finds excellent vegetables surrounded by mediocre everything else: "The new space is a drag, but lost coziness isn’t the culprit. Found ugliness is...When crowded, the room is noisy to boot." [NYT]
Ahead, Gael Greene dusts off her hammer and a star-studded edition of Elsewhere.
3) Though we are still at least three weeks away from seeing any formal review of Ramsay, the critics have not been hesitant to provide the early word. Last week it was Reichl, this week it is Gael Greene via her Insatiable Critic column. Greene: "The chef’s signature feint, a luscious smoky froth with white beans, has us sighing, but most everything else is a work-in-progress. Sea scallops, slivered, then overcooked, suggest someone hasn’t a clue what great chefs here do with diver scallops. [NYM]
Elsewhere, Adam Platt awards one star each to Cafe Cluny and 7Square, Paul Adams very pleased with the new Periyali, Andrea Strong at Lunetta, Ryan Sutton at Sasabune and Kyotofu, Moira Hodgson one and one-half-stars Frederick's Downtown, Tables at Max Brenner, Robert Sietsema at Rego Park's Arzu, Randall Lane four stars The Smoke Joint, Augieland not too pleased with Klee, The Restaurant Girl at Bar Martignetti, and Nosh at Super Taste.