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Week in Reviews: Robuchon, Bamn, Japonais

[Kalina, 8/6/06.]

1) Alan Richman, in his debut as Bloomberg's chief restaurant critic, files an aggressively early review of Robuchon , ultimately concluding that it's a 'gem' but as for a return visit: 'not as long as reservations are nearly impossible to get.' Let's go to the video tape.

The menu in New York is similar to the others: unnecessarily complicated. There are asterisked small portions that are supposed to be eaten early in the meal. There are un-asterisked small portions. There are small portions that also can be ordered as large portions. There are large portions not available as small portions...

More than a half-dozen items were Robuchon at his best, which means precisely assembled, absolutely coherent, unabashedly delicious. These included lightly seasoned crabmeat sandwiched between two slices of avocado with julienned apples stacked like rifles on top; lobster between two shavings of turnip in a construction resembling a space shuttle; warm poached oysters swimming in salted butter; loup de mer with leeks; plus the quail and foie gras ravioli.

Given this timing of the review, some of it is unfair -- menus may be edited and revised already -- but we mostly appreciate Richman's take, especially the World of Robuchon context he provides at the top. [Bloomberg; note the ghost of Peter Elliot in the link]

2) Despite our call for radio silence on Bamn, an exception will be made for Stevie The Cuozz's genius assessment of NY's first -- and, fingers crossed, last -- automat since the late 1960s. See if you can tell whether or not he likes it:

If its mostly vile $1-$2 delicacies - from chicken nuggets to peanut-butter-and-jelly empanadas - were sold in a deli, they wouldn't draw a fruit fly. They are possibly the worst foodstuffs ever offered for human consumption outside a famine zone.
No opinion yet. Maybe he's just getting lose?
Let's launch a 24/7 operation serving instant junk food to boozers from the 'burbs! Let's put the stuff behind a wavy pink wall of plastic windows! Let's use an exclamation point! The best way to approach Bamn! is not to...
All-in, he's on the fence. [NYP]

Ahead, the Bruni at Japonais and Elsewhere everywhere.

3) Next, Bruni crosses Japonais off his to-be-reviewed list, in the end slapping it with one star.

The “spicy mono” roll, mingling tender octopus with tuna tartare and an eel sauce, balanced spicy and sweet elements in a delightful way, and the quality of the seafood in simpler sushi and sashimi selections was beyond reproach.

But there was also plenty of nonsense in the multisegmented stretch of the menu leading up to entrees. Taking snow crab claws, encasing them in shrimp and crab mousse and then deep-frying them produced generically crunchy finger food with little crab flavor.

Teriyaki-coated chicken drumettes with a roasted scallion dipping sauce had less appeal than your average Buffalo wings in your average sports bar.

Unevenness was the norm.

Quick hat tip to Bruni, who we now know for sure (exhibit B: Morimoto) cannot be fooled by an expensive-looking Japanese joint. [NYT]

Elsewhere, Meehan at Province, Adams at Devin, Sietsema at Skyway, Tables for Two at Little Owl, Augieland at Japonais, Food Nerds at Kitchen 22, Mona's Apple at Vintage, NY Journal at The Orchard and $20 a Day at Spartan Souvlaki.

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