[Varietal; Kalina, 1/16/07.]
1) Frank Bruni visits Pera and Dennis Foy this week, awarding each one star. The general idea here is that each is 'good enough.' If the Bruni was trying to file this week without having to voice an opinion one way or the other on his subjects, then victory is his. On Pera: it's "a restaurant good enough at what it does best to argue for at least a moment’s consideration." And Dennis Foy, he says, "like Pera is a worthy but low-wattage addition to the New York dining scene: an “if you happen to be” as opposed to a “you have to try” restaurant." And only if you happen to be scanning the dining section today is Bruni in full is worth reading. [NYT]
2) In most other parts of the critics area this week there is talk about the new wine bar and restaurant Varietal, with the consensus being it's a little fussy and a lot precious—though not necessarily in a bad way. Hodgson, despite her awarding it only one and one-half stars, probably likes it the most and Adams the least. Platt two starred the oenophile and food set playpen:
There are other clichéd qualities about Varietal that a jaded, obsessively nitpicky restaurant critic might choose to bring up. Like the hokey chandeliers constructed from wineglasses, or the friendly though slightly overarticulate waiters who offer endless recitations of the abstract and sometimes downright weird food. But in the end, the whole potentially grim scene is rescued by the cooking, which is highly complex, aggressively trendy, and often pretty good.In a rare moment of critical chorus, in fact, Hodgson mostly concurs: "With all its eagerness for experimentation, it’s easy to knock Varietal, and it’s certainly not the place for everybody." Also, special Platt two-fer bonus: he's also at Klee this week and finds it 'better than you would expect.' [NYM,
Elsewhere, Meehan & Bruni, LLC on the disappointment of BRGR, Richman at Finanicial District steakhouse Harry's, Meehan at East Village falafel joint Chickpea, Sietsema at Park Slope's Sheep Station, Tables in Chelsea at Trestle on Tenth, Ryan Sutton files the early word on American Diner and E.U., Nosh at Koreatown bighouse Kunjip, and Feisty Foodie on a less than consistent experience at Knife + Fork.