1) First up, it's the Bruni, who uses his column inches this week to upgrade chef/partner Dave Pasternack's seafood restaurant, Esca, from two to three stars. It's per the Bruni playbook, but quite gushing even in that context:
...Mr. Pasternack’s kitchen is a steady, well-oiled trawler moving through placid seas. Be it weakfish or wolffish, the catch I’ve had at Esca has always tasted fresh. Whether black bass, wild striped bass or golden spotted bass, it’s almost never been overcooked or undercooked...In an era when too many restaurants try to be everything to everyone, Esca has a specific agenda: show what the sea can yield.And the sea, it turns out, can also yield yet another three stars for Batali's empire, which puts him in reach of Vongerichten for total stars in NY. [NYT]
2) Platt delivers a twofer this week, featuring Gramercy Tavern and Gilt, which are both sporting new chefs; and both, for Mr. Platt, are worthy of three of his five stars. On Lee's Gilt:
I've always admired Liebrandt's cooking, but under Lee, the kitchen has a more settled, steady feel. Like his predecessor, the young chef (Lee is 31) has a fondness for esoteric ingredients, but tends to use them in a more restrained way. Order the properly opulent foie gras torchon, and you will find that it's infused with pleasant hints of smoked bacon and caramel. The ultrafresh yellowfin-tuna tartare comes with a little platoon of crispy, piping-hot scallion pancakes on the side, and Kobe beef makes a single, blessedly brief appearance on Lee's new menu, floating in a delicious onion soup filled with chanterelles and melted Gruyère.Similar comments are used to rate Michael Anthony at Gramercy Tavern. Plus, Platt throws in "haute barnyard," which must make him happy. [NYM]
Gilt is a pricey, old-world kind of restaurant, and although its refined, even haughty tone has not changed, there's nothing stodgy or old-world about Lee's cooking.
3) And it's Moira Hodgson in the three hole today, with a two star verdict on Anthos, the new Arpaia/Psilakis Greek business opposite '21' Club
Mr. Psilakis decided to set his sights high with Anthos, where he planned to take his cooking one step further. His new food is exciting and risky, but the ingredients and the Greek flavors work. For instance, rabbit braised in black truffle juices on hilopita, a flat noodle, with snails cooked in Assyrtiko (a dry white Greek wine) and light, creamy manouri cheese, sounds baroque, but it’s terrific.Also noted: "I noticed that all the cars parked on either side of the street had chauffeurs waiting for customers from “21.” Aside from the relative bargain of its prix-fixe lunch, Anthos is just as expensive as its clubby counterpart across the way." [NYO]
Elsewhere, Randall Lane destroys MePa Canadian gastropub The InnLW12, while Paul Adams insists it 'works'; Tables at E.U., Meehan assess dining thin dining options at Red Hook in Fairway and the Whole Foods Bowery, Gael Green at Spotlight Live, Robert Sietsema in Sunnyside at Guagua Pichincha, the RG gets delivery from the new Landmarc TWC, $20 Bucks at Lovey Day and The Nuts at Bar Jamon.