[Oyster Bar; by Kalina, 8/25/04.]
1) Frank Bruni has but two stars for Gordon Ramsay, concurring with his peers that the restaurant is straight-up boring.
[F]or all his brimstone and bravado, his strategy for taking Manhattan turns out to be a conventional one, built on familiar French ideas and techniques that have been executed with more flair, more consistency and better judgment in restaurants with less vaunted pedigrees...And so, friends, our story's nearly at an end. All that remains is the coda to Gordon Takes Manhattan, in which Ramsay doesn't renew his contract at Susan Magrino PR. [NYT]
But the restaurant fails to deliver the most important thing of all: excitement. And it’s impossible, given Mr. Ramsay’s reputation, not to be primed for it, and not to be rankled by the low-key loveliness that you get in its place.
2) Alan Richman visits the New York icon Oyster Bar this week and returns with some important pointers:
I ate there three times, shortly after a friend who considers the place an enduring and special part of New York sent me his rules: Never eat in the main dining room. (I agree.) Never go for dinner. (Actually, it's the same as lunch.) Never, ever order fish. (He means flat fish, and, shockingly, he has a point.)...Also, the oysters are, indeed, the thing. Will the Grumpster be back? "Yes, and with a date. A man has to dream, doesn't he?" [Bloomberg]
Beware the so-called Main Dishes, which test the culinary imagination of the kitchen staff, an example being the hoisin- marinated Alaskan black cod. There's nobody named Nobu back there.
3) The Underground Gourmet, aka The Robs, go burger hunting this week and, on a tip, uncover the goods at The Stoned Crow. In accordance with the Official Burger Discovery Code of Conduct, said burger must now be known as their triumph and theirs alone. At this time please do not attempt an 'I've been going to the Stoned Crow for years.' Rules are rules, afterall.
The Crow Burger is a bacon-cheeseburger; the Classic is baconless. Both are served on paper plates and come with raw onion, crinkle-cut pickles, iceberg lettuce, and rather anemic tomatoes. You have a choice of cheese—American or Cheddar, and ketchup (Heinz) or mustard (Gulden’s), and that’s about it. As for the beef, it was remarkably fresh and nicely broiled with a rough, salt-crusted char; the patties were irregularly hand-shaped, loosely packed, and fairly juicy. Standard-issue sesame-seeded buns served their purpose well in being supremely squishy, melding quickly with the cheese and beef into one delicious, harmonious whole. In short, the burgers at the Stoned Crow did indeed rock.An important extra fact is that the burger maker at The Underground Gourmet's Stoned Crow -- which, incidentally, got two red-with-white-center stars -- is Jaime Saucedo, who is ten-year veteran of the Corner Bistro. [NYM]
Elsewhere, Meehan boozed on Transylvanian champagne at Acasa, Sietsema finds 'great food' at Midwood's Rocher D'Horeb, Nosh has 'respectably good' brunch at 202, the RG not pleased with the new E.U., Big Apple Dining Guide on Restaurant Week at Eleven Madison Park and Fork NY at Bouley.