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Week in Reviews: Sascha, Starr, Best Bruni Ever

[Kalina, 3/20/06]

1) Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Frank Bruni. Utterly, totally, and spectacularly en fuego. The Times brass were either sleeping or coerced, because this week, with his tripartite one-star Sascha review, Frank has fun. To start with, the format: emails from to To second with, they're kicky.

You'll never, ever ...
... guess which famished, neglected neighborhood I found myself dining in last night. Ready? Sitting down? Strapped in?

The meatpacking district!

To third with, it's thorough. And while quotes are nothing compared to the real thing (we say, today, unequivocally, go read it), a (bacon-inflected) taste should help.
Of fried oysters — or more accurately the coleslaw beneath them, which was inflected with bacon. It's hard to go wrong when you're inflecting with bacon.
Maybe it's supposed to be chicly unchic. Or cheekily chichi.
We also got a French dip sandwich. You'd appreciate it only if you'd lost your mind.

"Arby's," said my companion after a taste of the overcooked, dreary, grayish slices of meat.

"Dinty Moore," I countered.

But what was up with the soundtrack? The softer side of Michael Jackson, the softer side of George Michael — I came to fear that the softer side of Michael Bolton was right around the corner. Then I got it: the genius at work. It was high-concept music-food pairing. Easy listening for thoughtless eating.
and then, finally, a plausible explanation:
We had more than a few special cocktails.
until we realize that this is just the moment it's all been leading up to. Frank Fucking Bruni. Yeah. [NYT]

2) Tables for Two takes on Stephen Starr in a double review of Morimoto and Buddakan. Andrea Thompson sets it up:

In January, just before making his Manhattan début with these two supersized eateries, the Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr boasted to the Times that “Morimoto will be far more interesting than any restaurant New York has ever seen.”
And knocks it down:
Well, maybe, if New York hasn’t lately visited Megu, or En Japanese Brasserie, or even Del Posto, just across the street.
Snap. Morimoto, at least, fares better than Buddakan, which can't rise above the bad crowds, worse style, and worst ever cocktails. Shocking. [New Yorker]

After the jump, a chick opened a restaurant, jerk chicken in Brooklyn, and the usual online roundup.

3) Platt three-stars Dona, gives an atypically unswervy three-star laundry list review of the Greek-Italian place, Donatella "But She's a Woman!" Arpaia's latest New York venture. Having properly foreshadowed there, it should come as no surprise that much of the review focuses on Arpaia's feminine touches, both in decor and concept. Otherwise, chef Michael Psilakis is apparently quite a hand with the raw meat, there are many menu choices, and some of them—like the almond-crusted prawns, lobster tasting menu, sardines, and strip steak—are excellent. The only flair comes with the Midtown dis:

The choice banquettes are occupied by uptown matrons with $400 hairdos, and the gentlemen clustered around the bar are dressed in sharp Italian suits.
Quite. [New York]

4) Peter Meehan spends $25 or Under at Brooklyn's Jerk City, in between absorbing the scene: sunglasses, dreads, and overly-friendly would-be Watchtower-pamphlet donors. The secret is in the secret chicken marinating process, given that working with the foolproof wood grill is far from foolproof. [NYT]

Elsewhere, Off the Broiler discovers Momo"all the rage"fuku; Restaurant Girl hits up AvroKO's latest, Quality Meats; the Village Voice tries out that other Japanese behemoth, En; and Bruni, after his star moment at Sascha, scales it back at the Upper West Side's Lisca.