1) Frank Bruni is up first, with his mannered but unmistakable takedown of Wakiya, which sucks and gets a whopping zero stars/satisfactory. Roll tape:
It’s managed by members of the team behind Nobu, and its Japanese chef, Yuji Wakiya, commands respect for his interpretative Chinese cooking at four restaurants in and around Tokyo. There’s a lingering promise in this pedigree.The best dish in the house, for the few suckers still fixated on seeing the place for themselves, is the omelet stuff with fried rice with diced pork. [NYT]
But there’s a crushing sense of letdown in what it’s produced, an experience in which pleasures are flickering and unreliable, in which the slickness of the gleaming red-and-black setting and the poise of the best servers are undercut by inconsistent cooking and dishes that too often look three times as good as they taste.
Bonus: Alan Richman is also at Wakiya this week and pretty much agrees the place totally sucks ass. Of course he won't be back and: "The Fiery Pepper Hunt Chicken is remarkably bad -- it's hard to believe a Japanese chef can prepare fried chicken this soggy. The Sea Bass in Hot Chouten Olive Oil -- the first time I've encountered olive oil in Chinese cuisine -- is essentially oil- slick fish filets. (You'll remember the Exxon Valdez.) Don't even consider the Sauteed Broccoli With Chinese Bacon. I don't want to know what's in that sauce." [Bloomberg]
2) Adam Platt is at Centro Vinoteca and Accademia di Vino (the latter of which will make its Index debut this week) and has one star a piece for these trendy new Itals. On Centro: "The menu is an almost textbook compilation of currently trendy Italian dining styles—small plates, or “piccolini”; an eclectic selection of wines from the “enoteca” wine bar; and rustic pastas salted with an assortment of fatty pork products." Note, the Platt likes the pastas. At Accademia: Kevin Garcia...has also thrown everything he can think of onto the restaurant’s bewilderingly large menu, including ten kinds of salumi, eight grilled pizzas (try the soppressata with red peppers), three chopped tartares, seven salads, five varieties of pressed panini, fourteen Italian cheeses, eight pastas, and more small-plate carpaccios, tramezzini, and antipasti than I bothered to count...Given this scattershot approach, some dishes are bound to hit and a few to miss." [NYM]
3) Peter Meehan for $25 and Under files from BarFry, Josh DeChellis's new tempura joint in the West Village. The best stuff on the menu isn't the fried stuff, but the daily specials, whatever they are. In the end:
The food has gotten better with each passing week, and when Mr. DeChellis cuts loose and really cooks there are honest pleasures to be had at BarFry. Too bad, then, that it’s so easy to leave feeling as if you were shuffled through the place at someone else’s pace, without the time to give your dinner its due.All-in Meehan files something of an endorsement for the restaurant, which, especially given how cranky the reviewer usually is, does bode well for BarFry. [NYT]
Elsewhere, Paul Adams find 'potential' at the 'Bataliesque' Centro Vinteca; Randall Lane, awards stars like they grow on trees, has another five (of six) for BLT Market; Robert Sietsema is in Bay Ridge at Plaka Taverna; and Tables for Two is at Gemma, which "has the feel of a sound stage."
On the blogs, Andrea Strong 'good' at new midtowner Toloache; Project Me at Alex Urena's new Pamplona; Nosh takes Kingswood for a test drive and finds it the best of the Aussies; and NY Journal finds Per Se still firing on all cylinders.