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Week in Reviews: Three Stars for Café Boulud

Café Boulud, Kalina, 1/10/2006.

1) Frank Bruni three-stars Cafe Boulud, Daniel Boulud's Upper East Side casual restaurant. He's quite smitten with the place, to be sure: "The dishes at Café Boulud are united less by ethnic orientation than by the kitchen’s skill and by embellishments that reliably turn what’s already enjoyable into something remarkable...A côte de bouef for two was such gorgeous meat, so gorgeously pan-roasted, that it could easily have prospered on its own. But it came with an exquisite sauce choron: béarnaise blended with a confit of fresh tomatoes.......Café Boulud hasn’t lost a step." Bonus credit, as the Bruni notes, is due to Daniel Boulud, who has managed to maintain such a high level of quality here, through a chef change, labor disputes, cease and desists, and the rest. [NYT]

2) Adam Platt is in classic, cranky form this week and with a great deal of skepticism ventures to Harold Dieterle's Perilla and Pichet Ong's P*Ong, where at each the critic can muster but one star (out of five) of enthusiasm. The worst of it is at P*Ong, so first, on Perilla: "It’s a solid, satisfying, somewhat cautiously conceived neighborhood restaurant—a place, in fact, about as far away, in tone and purpose, from the bright, harried kitchens of a reality-television show as it’s possible to be." And at on P*Ong: "It’s about experience and experimentation, and depending on one’s mood, it can move you to flights of fancy or plunge you into despair. I experienced both emotions during my visits to P*ong...The closest thing to a hungry-man’s dinner is a limp serving of Wagyu carpaccio (dripped with a wood-sorrel emulsion), plus an excellent polenta pudding dotted with wild morels. If that doesn’t work, you can choose among ten desserts, most of which are predictably wacky, and often quite wonderful." [NYM]

3) Steve Cuozzo gets his Free Range column close enough to a review for this space today, filing on Hudson River Cafe, Ricardo Cardona's restaurant on 133rd and Twelfth Avenue. He's pleased, likes the industrial space, the Amtrak going by at 100 mph and the food:

The stark environs might have inspired an industrial-grade menu. But Cardona’s offerings, strong on seafood and slightly Latin-tinted, are crowd-pleasing in a respectable way, with the likes of luscious $10 lump crab cakes, $20 lobster rolls and $24 herb-crusted lamb loin; ginger-glazed calamari heaped with organic greens, $10, are not to be missed.
The Cuozzo deems the venue worth the trek north; car owners should note that valet parking is $10. [NYP]

Elsewhere, Benjamin Steakhouse, Aurora Soho and Isabella's Oven in the the Times Briefs; Paul Adams finds the new Monkey Bar has 'not quite enough' going for it; Moira Hodgson -- still filing reviews, yes -- one-point-five stars Lower East Sider Rayuela; Tables for Two, and Jake Gyllenhaal at Insieme; Sutton has the early word on Johnny Utah's and Southern Hospitality; and Randall Lane five-of-sixes Park Avenue Summer (while deucing Solace).

On the blogs, NY Journal not pleased with Bette and Nosh at Westville.

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