Provence, shot by the Kalina, 4/10/07.
1) First up is the Bruni action, of course. This week he's at Provence, which, it turns out, is only worthy of one star. Spoiler: He's enchanted with the room, not enchanted with everything else:
As a neighborhood haunt — the kind of familiar French bistro you pop into almost by default, knowing what’s good and what’s what — Provence has enough going for it.Note as well that were it not for his combined affinity for Freeman and Murphy, and, surely, Jennifer Baum (PR for the place), this is a Bruni standing by with a goose egg: "There’s been improvement since early April, and there are definite pleasures to be had. But the strides haven’t been steady enough to dispel my impressions of a kitchen — directly supervised by Lynn McNeely, who cooked at Barbuto — that can’t fully get its act together." [NYT]
But Mr. Meyer and Ms. Freeman are positioning this restaurant, which has 110 seats in all, to be more than that. The 15 well-chosen wines by the glass, including four rosés, seek the approval and affection of savvy gourmands, as do the artisanal cheese selections, which change regularly.
And the blue paint was purchased in Provence, so that the shade was just so. If the restaurateurs get as obsessive about the food, they may be able to celebrate their anniversary here for years to come.
2) We apparently missed the note about this being Drop the Hammer on Jennifer Baum week, because not only does she get a paltry one star at Provence, she's got Adam Platt and his goose egg at Landmarc TWC to deal with as well. Platt, a man who, these days, makes his money being bored, is completely bored with Landmarc and perhaps even a little fed up with the whole Murphy show:
The dinner menu at the new Landmarc is more or less a duplicate of the original one, which means it’s an exhaustive document, containing, on the evening I counted, 55 items, not including specials or dessert. In a cozy, neighborly environment, this kind of variety is a novel thing, but when you’re serving legions of clamorous mallgoers all day long (this Landmarc is open for daily breakfast too), mistakes are bound to happen...More evidence: tuna was 'fresh enough'; pastas are 'pretty good'; strip steak was 'a decent piece of meat.' We just fell asleep twice. [NYM]
Bonus: Hodgson is also at Landmarc this week. She awards one star and mostly concurs with Platt, but adds the totally absurd and blatantly false, "At 10:30 p.m., the line snaked around about as long as a block. The Murphys are definitely onto something." [NYO]
Elsewhere, Peter Meehan sweating at Grand Sichuan St. Marks, Steve Cuozzo loves early duds Amalia, FR.OG, and Insieme, Randall Lane two-of-sixes Spotlight Live, Robert Sietsema in Sunset Park at Belachan, Paul Adams raves about Insieme, and Ryan Sutton at face-lifted Monkey Bar and Varietal.