1) We begin this week with the case of Knife + Fork and the commenting that is underway at Menupages. Though this "review" is penned by the Menupages collective, it is a choice case study on the danger of too much buzz too soon. Observe the precisely inverse relationship between media buzz and actual satisfaction in Damien Brassel's one-man shop. First, pre-buzz:
A surprising east village dinner: Looking for a place to have dinner the other night we saw this very new place and were hesitant to stop by. There was no one inside. The chef made conversation and the menu looked interesting but it took us a walk around the block to come back. Thankfully we did...The $40 tasting menu (which if this place gets popular will almost definitely go up) is a great deal. The duck itself (the last savory course) was absolutely some of the best duck I have ever had. The desert rocked too - it was lucky we got seconds of the thyme infused pana cotta or we might have had to storm the kitchen.But, then, this, posted just last week, following various press mentions:
Avoid in general:My experience at Knife & Fork was one that I will never forget...Where do I begin? What does it say about an establishment and its chef when its policy forces the "Price Fixed, Chef’s Choice Menu" on every party six or greater? It is clearly a warning sign, stay away. The chef's choice of food combination was poor and uninspiring. The portions were tiny, fit for a boy of 5 years old. Let’s just say, the one raw scallop we each received was the biggest item of all the entrée dishes throughout the night. The waiting time per dish was approximately 20 minutes, which is hysterical since the restaurant was half empty and practically every dish was served raw to some degree...Overall, it is quite obvious I would not recommend Knife & Fork to anyone.Ugly, yes, but here's to hoping that post-post buzz things return to their initially promising state. [Menupages]
2) Peter Meehan, via his anachronistically named $25 and Under, finds 'cue euphoria in the new-ish dining room at Daisy May's:
For the pigs, [pitmaster Adam Perry] paints the cutting board with a sweet, sour and beguilingly aromatic barbecue sauce based on Chimayo chili powder before he brings out the meat. He encourages diners to drag the meat they've picked through the sauce if they're so inclined, or to go pig-to-plate (or pig-to-mouth) if not. Plastic tubs of fleur de sel, the fancy large-grain French sea salt, are provided as part of the deal and, though none of the meat I tasted was wanting for seasoning, the few fistfuls of pig meat I garnished with the salt were none the worse for it.[NYT, $25U]
The flesh the suckling pigs yield after an eight-hour trip through the restaurant's pit is sweet and tender, whether it's from the belly, the cheek, the butt, the ham or the loin, or plucked from between the tiny ribs...
It is the restaurant's position that a 15-pound half pig or a whole pork shoulder will feed 6 people (the whole pig, 12; the rack of lamb, 2). It is my contention that six people could hurt themselves trying to eat that much meat.
Ahead, Bruni on Mr. Chow, TONY takes their six-star system for a spin at Ditch Plains, Strong on Chinatown Brasserie and so much more.
Reason No. 2: Once you've visited Mr. Chow Tribeca, you will appreciate your favorite neighborhood Chinese takeout place like never before.And,
Reason No. 3: You will encounter a kind of service so aggressive at certain times and incoherent at others that it becomes a divine comedy.The bottom, entirely predictable, line is that "Food seemed beside the point." The reason he did the review in the first place: unclear. [NYT]
At the start of each meal, servers push expensive Champagne. ("For a toast! How about a toast? Don't you want to make a toast?") They do it even if you have a full martini in front of you. Even if you have already said no.
Elsewhere, three TONY Stars for Ditch Plains, Strong's 'great' meal at Chinatown Brasserie, Sietsema sheepish about New Utrecht's Bay Ridge Cafe, Tables for Two on the snort-proof Pre:Post, Noshing at Quartino, two stars from ext212 for Del Posto.