Frank Bruni puts another two star venue on the Lower East Side today by awarding chef Neil Ferguson's Allen & Delancey the deuce:
It’s easily one of the prettiest, most comfortable places I’ve been introduced to in a while, a reminder of how crucial to an evening’s enjoyment the right visual trappings, the right amount of elbowroom and the ability to have a conversation without shouting can be.While our betting slump continues, so does Mr. Bruni's general trend of generosity. And as a special Bruni bonus, he refers to Ferguson's former boss Gordon Ramsay as, "that famously unexcitable introvert." [NYT]
Its three dark, candlelit rooms — they’re perhaps better called chambers — feel like a scruffily elegant splice of antiques store, speakeasy and literary salon, what with all the frayed volumes on the shelves above the semicircular booths in the back, all the oil paintings and vintage photographs. If Stevie Nicks were the host of a weekly book club, its meetings would happen someplace like this.
And the food at Allen & Delancey is at once sophisticated and accessible, reliant on fail-safe luxuries deployed in a modestly creative and occasionally playful manner. It’s not entirely unlike what Mr. Ferguson was doing uptown, but context is everything.
Alan Richman dines at Allen & Delancey as well and he, too, is a big fan: "Unlike the glittery Gordon Ramsay restaurant, Allen & Delancey is precisely what Manhattan needs, an intimate, sophisticated and not obviously commercial spot ...Will I be back? Certainly. I wish my parents were still around so I could show them how chic the neighborhood of their birth has become." [Bloomberg]
Peter Meehan has you in and out of Food Shing, a relocated noodle shop in Chinatown, in less than 30 minutes: "Waitresses approach diners seconds after they sit, issue a quick “Ni hao” or “Hello” and flip a menu open on the table. There’s nothing to fuss over, no appetizers, no side dishes and, for most diners, no beverage. You point at a soup, the waitress writes and hands over a receipt, and minutes later — more than one but less than five — there’s a meal in front of you." Meehan's faves include the beef soup with hand-pulled noodles ($4.50). [NYT]
Moira Hodgson one-stars Peter Hoffman's East Village farmhouse Back Forty: "The menu is strange. Of just six main courses, three are sandwiches. You can begin with a choice of four “snacks,” bar food such as rings of squash in tempura batter, served with a mini squeeze bottle of smoked paprika mayonnaise. The batter was light but greasy, and the squash was tasteless. I’d have preferred onion rings. Shrimp and bacon beignets with sweet chili sauce were doughy. They weren’t bad, but didn’t have enough character to inspire another round...Back Forty is an endearing restaurant that hasn’t quite found its groove. At times it’s trying too hard and it’s a wee bit earnest." [NYO]
Adam Platt has one star for Gramercy Tavern knock-off Irving Mill in a review in which Danny Meyer gets more mentions than all of the players involved with Irving Mill combined. Scratch pad: "Except for that rabbit ragout, the food could use a little more range and inspiration. But one star for the stolid cooking and the warm and cozy atmosphere." [NYM]
ELSEWHERE, Danyelle Freeman, the Restaurant Girl awards one-and-a-half-stars to Meyer wannabe Irving Mill; Randall Lane three- and two-stars newbie Italians Bacaro and Dell'Anima; Tables for Two at East Village farmhouse Back Forty; Ryan Sutton drops the early, and positive, word on Dessert Studio and The Smith; Paul Adams at Matt Hamilton's Belcourt in the East Village; Bob Lape for Crain's two- and one-point-five-stars TBar Steak and Lounge and Uncle Jack's; and Robert Sietsema is at 'Sunset Park's most remarkable Cantonese', Pacificana.
ON THE BLOGS, Andrea Strong at West Chelsea tapas closet El Quinto Pino; Ed Levine has a 'truly great steak' at Hanson's Primehouse; and Scoboco has pigs feet at Hakata Tonton.