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Week in Reviews: One Star for Primehouse

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Kalina, 9/29/07.

Frank Bruni one-stars Primehouse New York, Steve Hanson's new steakhouse on Park Avenue South. The bow tied around this particular steakhouse is that all the meat comes from the offspring of a single bull, Prime, a fact not lost on The Bruntastic. We have some extra time today, so we'll go Good News/Bad News style. Good news:

"Serious money went into this place...And serious ambition goes into its steaks, starting but not ending with the restaurant’s vaunted Secretariat of sirloin. Primehouse ages its beef on site, in a climate-controlled underground room tiled with Himalayan rock salt. You can gaze at the dangling flesh, if you like, through an enormous window. Dinner meets diorama...This process yields steaks that are reliably appealing and occasionally exceptional.
But. Hello, Trouble:
But there are some oddities afoot...I wish more of the bottles of red wine under $70 were more appealing. That would represent a better update of the traditional steakhouse than any of the restaurant’s many little tricks and flashy theatrics, which become too cute in aggregate: a martini with a dribble of veal stock that’s called the Dirty Bull; the presentation of bagel-shaped bread on a spindle; knives nearly the size of tomahawks; a traffic jam of service carts in the aisles; and dessert doughnuts that come in the form of hollow balls, accompanied by three plastic syringes of a sort containing chocolate, butterscotch and strawberry. You use the syringe of your choice to, um, fertilize each one.
In the end, The Full Hanson gets his pull-quote: "It’s the seminal steakhouse." [NYT]

Robert Sietsema files right down the middle on Cantina, Jason Neroni's new kitchen on Avenue B: "is Cantina just another tapas bar? Maybe so, because the headings of the menu are in Spanish, and the servings are small. Made up of seven selections, "Pinchos" (literally, "toothpicks") is the largest section of the menu. There, in addition to the ham platter, you'll find sublime pork croquettes ($9) that carry forward Neroni's obvious obsession with pig. The formulation of these beauties has changed over the last few weeks. First, they were a pair of giant brown orbs filled with pulled pork and accompanied by a subtle pecan dipping sauce. Later, they were the size of marbles and mired in a garlicky alioli. Both rocked substantially."

Paul Adams for the Sun is at Macdougal Street newbie Smith's, owned by Danny Abrams and Cindy Smith: "Regardless of its popularity, Smith's is a classic mixed bag. Some dishes are excessive by design, others poorly executed in the heat of the dinner rush, and a few, like the pasta, remarkably good and worthy of a return visit — perhaps after the first wave of crowds has moved on." [NYS]

ELSEWHERE, Bruni and Meehan at One If By Land, TIBS and Radegast; Tables for Two at BarFry; and Gael Green at The Smith, which she quite likes.

ON THE BLOGS, Andrea Strong at The Smith, which she finds 'good'; Gastro Chic in the East Village at Belcourt; Writing with My Mouth Full not entirely feeling Bacaro; after a rocky start, Gotham Gal approves of Shorty's.32; and, Eatery Row at 'wichcraft.

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