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Week in Reviews: Centro Vinoteca Gets One Star, BLT Market Sitting Pretty

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Kalina, 7/27/07.

1) Frank Bruni files his review on Centro Vintoteca today, and it's a disappointing one star affair, with a serious emphasis on chef Anne Burrell's fried offerings. As in, "if you see the word fried...get whatever it’s attached to." But, in the end, its the scene that's the problem:

The restaurant’s pedigree, flourishes and consciousness of trends (not just salumi and piccolini but also the availability of many thoughtfully selected wines by the quartino instead of the glass) announce its determination to be a bona fide hot spot.

So does the lack of any discernible effort to diminish the screeching noise on the main, street-level floor, where the crowd around the semicircular bar leaves you almost no room for loitering if your table isn’t ready. Try to get seated upstairs. Grovel. Trade your firstborn child if it’s the only way.

With this review filed, we've got Centro experiencing a pretty serious decline from its earliest reviews, which were very good. We also can't help noting the irony here, of this restaurant and its rival Morandi having both gotten the same, one star, Bruni verdict. [NYT]

2) Both Alan Richman and Danyelle Freeman are at BLT Market this week (Freeman, Richman) and they're both quite pleased, overall. Who's ready for a Richman/Freeman he said/she said?

The AR: "[It's] a relaxed and generous restaurant, practically parkside, that softens a somewhat daunting hotel."
The RG: "It's a charmed space - with vibrant vegetable paintings, antique gardening tools and oak-plank floors - that eclipses its posh Ritz-Carlton address."

The AR: "BLT Market's very good chicken stuffed with bread crumbs and herbes de Provence could feed three."
The RG: 'Rubbery skin [on the stuffed chicken] clings to flavorless meat, and a side of mushy tomatoes only added insult to an injured bird."

The AG: "Will I be back? When cold air arrives, terrace dining ceases and the door to the outside is closed tight."
The RG: "Though BLT Market doesn't critically raise the bar for the market-driven restaurant, Tourondel once again proves himself an able chef, a gracious host and a versatile entrepreneur."

[NYDN, Bloomberg]

3) Finally, we come to Adam Platt, who has a two-fer for you this week, on Soto and BarFry, which get two and one stars, respectively. On Soto, via the scratchpad, "One star for the solid sushi, and another for Kosugi’s inspired seafood creations." On BarFry, it's good, but, "Eating all those fried items together in the special wire-bottomed “Chef’s Box” is like trying to devour an entire bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The pure caloric density (even the green-tea ice cream is scattered with fried batter) is too much to bear." [NYM]

Elsewhere, Ryan Sutton files the early word on Omido, a sushi joint in Time Square that has the distinction of an AvroKo design, and Graffiti, Jehangir Mehta's new dessert bar in the East Village. Peter Meehan is at that 'reliably good' Nusura in Queens, craving beef before noon; Paul Adams is in Midtown at Crave Ceviche Bar, which is 'deeper and less earthbound' than the man had feared; and Doree Shafrir for the Observer is at L’Epicerie, a Brooklyn grocery that becomes a $40/head BYO for dinner.

On the blogs, Andrea Strong likes Centro Vinoteca far more than Bruni; Gastro Chic at Resto, a restaurant living in the shadow of its two-star review; Project Me at Staten Island Tiki Bar Jade Island; Nosh in Midtown at District, which is somehow still open (our take, not theirs); and Scoboco at Ditch Plains, where there are now fish tacos.