Frank Bruni has one star for Gray Kunz's new non-restaurant Grayz. It's not that the place doesn't show potential greatness, it's that it doesn't know what is:
It’s as if [Kunz] refuses to give himself an appropriately flattering showcase or give you an easy path to his work. Maybe he has commitment issues...He certainly has a feng shui disorder...the layout at Grayz is such that you’re too likely to end up in a spot with bad sight lines that feels too far from a too-elusive center of gravity. That might be fine if Grayz, which is trying to cash in on the current cocktail craze, were really and truly about the drinks.So says the Bruni: try the 'addictive' fried calamari and the 'altogether terrific' kimchi-brushed prawns. [NYT]
Steve Cuozzo in a rant headlined Cut the Lebanonsense hints at the fact that he might not like the new Lebanese big-show Ilili: "...Ilili opened last month before it was ready for actual paying customers...One night, we noshed in the vast, disorganized lounge for 30 minutes before being offered a table - not in the spacious main room, which had a sea of empty seats, but in a parallel, cramped, low-ceilinged B-room barely lit and devoid of charm...Second courses showed up with our table full of starters we'd barely touched. Then, after we'd finished tasty black cod with dried spices, the same fish inexplicably showed up a second time. [NYP]
Paul Adams for the NY Sun is at Jehangir Mehta's Graffiti: "The cooking at Graffiti is both clever and neatly executed, impressively so considering the toy-sized kitchen. The pricing and the painfully cozy environs seem destined to draw a less sophisticated crowd than Mr. Mehta's used to; I hope this smart cooking finds an appreciative audience." [NYS]
Adam Platt two-stars Steve Hanson's new steakhouse Primehouse: "Diners sit in curved, black-leather banquettes, hefting big, Bowie-size steak knives, and as dinner progresses, processions of waiters stream through tall, curved archways at the ends of the room like extras on a movie set...This kind of showmanship produces a sense of occasion that the food at Primehouse New York sometimes lives up to, and sometimes does not. To get to the generally excellent steaks, you must run the usual gauntlet of salad wedges, beef tartares, and seafood platters. Possibly the best of these pre-beef treats are little rings of fresh ciabatta bread, baked plain or with olives, and placed on the table on what look like upright paper-towel holders. [NYM]
Robert Sietsema takes Market Table to task for all sorts of transgressions, including not really being 'market-driven', not living up to an initial press release and: "No brilliant inventions or science-chef flourishes here. Instead, we have a standard braised lamb shank deposited on a yellowish amalgam that might be cheese grits or puréed root veggies ($20); and the usual skin-on-chicken piece with a single bone protruding like an amputee's stump ($17). Both are competent but unexciting, and so is a strip steak ($29), disappointingly offered with an artichoke and olive mélange, but no starch." [VV]
The RG deuces it up for Shorty's.32 in Soho, which for some reason is still rolling with that ".32" on their name. Though we'll take issue with the Freeman calling the place 'SoHo's best-kept secret', we do agree with her take on the roast chicken: it's 'abundantly rich in flavor.' [NYDN]
ELSEWHERE, Bruni, Meehan and Burros are at Belcourt, Graffiti, and Lucy of Gramercy for the Times dining briefs; Tables for Two is in the East Village at 'calm' and 'elaborate' Kyo Ya; and Ryan Sutton files early on Ilili and Devi, the new Lebanese and the reopened Indian restaurants.
ON THE BLOGS, Andera Strong finally owns up at Dell'Anima: "I admit that we were a little annoying." Also, NY Journal at Irving Mill, Nosh in—get this—Staten Island at Hometown Buffet, and Project Me at Amy Ruth's on 116th Street.