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Week in Reviews: Dani, Bouchon Bakery, Throbbing Goodness

[Kalina, 1/23/06]

1) Bruni goes for the three-to-one odds, one-stars Dani, mostly for the misfires on the plate. Gives props for focusing on Sicily, given that it's always been considered the same way as that weird great-aunt who always insists on bringing out the Tarot cards and reading your spirit aura.

But hovering above and beneath some of that resistance is a feeling that Sicily is best kept at a slight remove. Although this island of roughly five million people is the fourth-most populous of Italy's 20 regions, more than a few Italians see it as an unruly, exotic world apart.
An unruly, exotic world that happens to be a great place for citrus, which explains the clementines, blood oranges, and fruits and nuts that "capture the island's marriage of sunshine and surf." But it's not close only to mainland Italy:
Sicily's proximity to northern Africa opens the door to seasonings and dishes absent from, or less prevalent in, other Italian regions. To that end an entree of grilled prawns at Dani comes with harissa, while couscous joins raisins and capers in a tagine of cod.
Some dishes, like the chicken, pork sausage, and housemade ricotta, are good. Others, like the fried calamari and the almond-potato soup, are not. But Bruni agrees with the Hodg's weeks-ago assessment that the desserts are worth staying (and possibly even going) for, particularly the grapefruit and Campari granita and the chocolate cake, "sensibly paired" with a hazelnut gelato. Ends totally on a wash:
And a bridge was built between the Italy New York diners usually visit and an Italy they don't know nearly as well.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's the world's fastest turtle. [NYT]

After the jump, Bouchon Bakery, Creepy Hotels, and the promised throbbing goodness.

2) Raisfeld and Patronite check out Bouchon Bakery, Thomas Keller's latest addition to the mall Shops at Columbus Circle, agree that it's a funny location.

It’s not something one readily admits, but having spent his formative feeding years as a pimple-faced stripling tucking into Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, Mrs. Fields cookies, and Cinnabons, the Underground Gourmet considers himself something of an expert on mall food. Nothing from one’s Orange Julius–gulping past, however, can prepare one for Thomas (Per Se) Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, the long-awaited, almost egalitarian addition to the Time Warner Center—and the only piece of the TWC’s so-called Restaurant Collection puzzle that’s plopped down, somewhat ignominiously, right out in the open mall corridor, like an airport Au Bon Pain.
Definitely seems like they're buying into the Keller-can't-do-wrong school of thought, even with the...wait for it... quiche.
As it turns out, chef Keller is an unabashed quiche freak, on a mission to right the wrongs of 1970s quiche cooks, and Bouchon’s quiche du jour—one day a Lorraine, the next a leeks-and-Roquefort—is simply a different species from any you’ve ever had: tall and tremulously custardy, rich but light, with a flaky pâte brisée crust.
Also worth trying is the foie gras, equally absurdly expensive as the sandwiches, but sharable because it's just so. damn. rich. [NYMag]

3) The Cuozz heads over to the Area Formerly Known as the Creepy Hotel District, finds it newly "throbbingly good," thanks to the additions of A Voce and Urena.

Not long ago, the area was as dead after dark as Wall Street. Then the gloomy old Carlton was restored, yuppified, and sexily illuminated after dark. Let there be more light and more raw tuna.
A Voce's hot, Urena's not, but they've both got killer dinner. [NYPost]

4) $25 and Under takes in the "familiar tableau" of the Greenwich Village cafe, takes in the unfamiliarity of Ametller's ouillade (a spinach, chickpea, and chorizo stew), and the regularly appearing romesco. It started as a coffee-and-pastries place, people got hungrier, so the owner, Dan Babaian, gradually turned it into a BYOB (not that we know what that means) restaurant. [NYT]

Elsewhere, Augieland mixes a little social criticism in with his going to bat for Pearl Oyster Bar's lobster roll; Tables for Two complains about Brooklyn's Lodge; and NYCNosh, lovely and charming as ever, gets deep into the etymology behind Sassy's Sliders.