His highness the Bruni has one star for Ilili the Lebanese restaurant above the Flatiron District. The review is probably soft enough that it won't move the needle one way or the other—a considerable problem for a venue of this size and ambition:
In this theater of more than 300 seats, about a third of them in an amber-glowing main dining room whose walls resemble a network of illuminated cubbyholes, Lebanese food gets the sort of stylish trappings accorded to Thai at Kittichai, Chinese at Buddakan and Japanese at Megu, Matsuri and so many other mega-restaurants around town...So's the place any good? Eh: "...you’re in for a very good night, provided you can relax in a setting this vast, this potentially noisy and, in terms of the service and the flow of human traffic, this occasionally confused." [NYT]
All the meats I sampled — the lamb loin; the beef with foie gras; chicken — were juicy, smoky and flavorful. Despite missteps elsewhere on the menu, Mr. Massoud is running a kitchen capable of discipline and finesse.
Paul Adams for the Sun reviews Bun, the Soho Vietnamese restaurant of which Michael Huynh is the executive chef in name only. But don't tell Adams that: "Bún is the latest project in a rapid series of Vietnamese restaurants from the chef, following success at Mai House and Southern California's Hidden, as well as the hits Bao 111 and Bao Noodles...Mr. Bao was on the premises each time I ate at Bún, so it doesn't seem to be a question of an ambitious chef spread too thin to attend to all his properties. But the service staff seems to have been hired for their charisma rather than for their ability and experience. Even when I was the only customer in the restaurant, my simple order was delayed and fumbled; when it starts to get halfway crowded, things fall apart catastrophically...It's painful to see food so good so hindered." [NYS]
Adam Platt files a twofer this week, awarding two stars to Bar Blanc and an unfortunate goose egg to Brasserie 44. On Bar Blanc: The menu at Bar Blanc is as small as the space (there are only four appetizers), and just as showy...But these pyrotechnics rarely go horribly wrong at Bar Blanc, and when they work, the cooking is comparable to that of a much larger, more ambitious restaurant. The three house pastas (particularly a wheel of lasagne made with minced lamb, and a bowl of orecchiette with braised rabbit) are worth the price of admission..." And on Brasserie 44: "So far there’s not much buzz here. Maybe it’s the space, the drabness of which is compounded by the flat, dimly lit lobby. Or maybe it’s the menu, which is a mishmash of familiar though capably reproduced Greenmarket and bistro staples." [NYM]
Robert Sietsema files on Peter's Since 1969, a historic Williamsburg restaurant that has declined under new ownership: "The supposed Frenchness is only one of the culinary mysteries of Peter’s Since 1969, which should really be called Peter’s Since 2007. Jumbled on the counter, a collection of pretty red Le Creuset casseroles holds the restaurant’s other offerings, constituting a steam table in disguise. As the multiply pierced clerk raises the lids in succession, you’ll discover decent mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes, leathery sautéed corn, green beans and broccoli oddly cooked together, chopped spinach en casserole, pallid mac and cheese, yellowish stewed okra, and bread-crumbed cauliflower. The selection varies, but most of the sides are united by two qualities, overcooking and underseasoning—perfect pap for invalids and hungry schoolchildren.
ELSEWHERE, The Cuozz reluctantly gives passing marks to Chop Suey; Peter Meehan and Julie Moskin file briefs on Abraço Espresso and Community Food and Juice; Ryan Sutton has more early word on Chop Suey, which is 'jolting, gorgeous, frightening;' Moira Hodgson has one star for Belcourt, which is uneven, but does have free wifi; and Tables for Two in Times Square at sushi restaurant Omido.
ON THE BLOGS, Andrea Strong at Seymour Burton; NY Journal at the revamped Bobo, Gotham Gal at West Village wine bar Gottino, and Project Me on the new 'sammies' at Quizno's.