Tailor, by the Kalina, 9/12/07.
1) While Bruni and Platt put the finishing touches on their one star reviews of Tailor, we've got Moira Hodgson Danyelle Freeman and Star King Randall Lane all on record this week on Sam Mason's sweet and salty laboratory on Soho. Common themes include the magical pork belly, the Snickers-like foie gras, and how much any of this is all that satisfying. Hodgson has two stars for it, Freeman a half-star less than that and Lane, with his equivalent of a Bruni goose-egg, four of six.
To Hodgson first: "We shared two portions of the pork belly, served with white miso butterscotch and artichokes, which was wonderful, with hints of whisky and apple cider in the sauce. A fight nearly broke out over the foie gras with peanut butter. This marvelous dish was topped with a layer of cocoa and garnished with Asian pickled pear...“Maybe now they’ll bring round the beef trolley and the mashed potatoes,” said a friend after we’d had six bites of dessert.
And to the RG: "Though pork belly has practically become a menu staple, Mason's interpretation is transcendent: tender hunks of pork in a salty-sweet spill of miso butterscotch, accompanied by whisky and cider-braised artichokes. Mason glimpses at genius, poaching a silky char in a sublime, passionfruit butter with doughy bits of lime-pickled spaetzle. You'd be smart to stick with the salty side of the menu. The "sweet" offers complicated dishes with often unsatisfying results...You leave Tailor still craving dessert."
Finally, Lane, with his contrarian, somewhat questionable take: "Though the selections are divided into “salty” and “sweet” categories, the menu’s not all that different from a conventional restaurant’s—the appetizers and entrées are savories, and the finales are desserts...Mason’s cooking is most successful when he complements, rather than contrasts. Seared pork belly seamlessly matches rich butterscotch infused with white miso; in a more questionable experiement, foie gras and peanut butter are married in an intriguing, yet off-puttingly unctuous pâté." [NYO, NYDN, TONY]
2) Robert Sietsema for Counter Culture is at Jimmy's No. 43, the East Village beer hall that is trying to get itself some culinary cred by way of a new chef. Siestema is on board:
Reveling in its cryptic name, Jimmy's No. 43 can't decide whether it wants to be like Burp or a market-driven bistro. In these confusing culinary times, there's apparently no conflict in doing both...Bonus: Cutlets also filed on Jimmy's this week, he, too, noting something of a rebirth: "Kirschen-Clark, 26, claims he's never made the same thing twice in his three months at Jimmy's. Last night we had The Slab, a heavy piece of braised bacon served with a sherry vinaigrette; some seared Spanish mackerel plated with cured concord grapes and some kind of amazing Asian starch purée; and a five-cauliflower bucatini with crisped salumi that had us rethinking our attitude toward that unlovable vegetable." [VV; Cutlets]
One evening we enjoyed a salad of mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes ($9)...the yellow and green and purplish-red love apples (as they were once known in Europe) were cut in wedges and tossed with diced mozzarella and shreds of purple onion, making the tomatoes the center of attention. Not a leaf of basil anywhere—instead, a black-pepper vinaigrette set the tomatoes on fire, bringing their sweetness to the fore.
3) Frank Bruni is at Moim, the Park Slope Korean sleeper, and awards it one star. Here's how you put a restaurant on the map:
Moim does a tempered, tweaked version of Korean cooking that’s still rarer — still more of an exciting discovery — than you’d expect, given all the Momofuku mania. Many of its dishes, distinguished by a beautifully modulated and lingering heat, are compelling. Most are at least satisfying.The worst of the problems at the restaurant are service and an entrance off Seventh Avenue. In sum, "Its shortcomings suggest she has a way to go as a restaurateur. Its strengths demonstrate that as a chef she has traveled an impressive distance already." [NYT]
Elsewhere: In the NYT Dining Briefs (so far not online), Frank Bruni files on BLT Market ("a restaurant can achieve only some my homeyness and inspire so many agrarian musing when it's tucked into the Ritz-Carlton and has dinner entrees priced between $29 and $43") and Marian Burros is at Seven's Turkish Grill (get the chicken Adana); The Underground Gourmet, in an off week for Adam Platt, files on El Quinto Pino, awards it three stars; Paul Adams has grasshopper tacos at Toloache; Ryan Sutton has the early word on West Village newbies Bobo and Market Table; and Tables for Two is at Wakiya.