Frank "the Maverick" Bruni throws us for a loop this week with a review for a vegan restaurant Candle 79. It's hard to say why Franktastic thinks now is the time to give "vegan cuisine its due", but the wheat gluten, the brown rice and beans earn a solid one star:
"Can an experience this meatless really be this painless? If you hit Candle 79’s best dishes — which means bypassing that burger — it can. And it unfolds in a comfortable two-story town house on East 79th Street with many booths, a long banquette upstairs and a general air of relaxation that’s in sync with the low-impact cuisine...There are some fails— a sloppy burger, a bland peach and apple pie— but in the end, Brunz just want to give the vegans some credit: "That regimen has its rigors, but it’s not without its rewards." [NYT]
...The restaurant gets top-notch produce from top-tier farms...Candle 79 leaves no part of the garden untouched, no patch of the forest unplumbed."
The Cuozz revisits Benoit and figures out how to have an actual good meal there: "All you need is to have globetrotting Ducasse fly in and personally supervise your dishes...we were presented with a complimentary middle course. The entrees that finally came were - surprise, shock - just grand.But there's trouble in Benoit's kitchen that can't be fixed by sending in the boss when a pesky writer walks in." [NYP]
Pete Wells files a $25 and Under on Fort Greene newcomer No. 7 and is thrilled they aren't serving meatloaf and other comfort food in these times: "No. 7 is a comfortable restaurant with comfortable prices, but it is not doing comfort food. It is doing big-city, night-on-the-town chef food. The economy may be regressing, but that doesn’t mean our diets have to." [NYT]
The RG has a rave for the whisky selection at Smith St. newcomer, Char No. 4. The food gets a brief nod, but the three stars are mostly directed towards the bar: "I thought I knew a thing or two about bourbon until I sat at the bar....[Michael Tsoumpas is] the co-owner of Char No. 4 and the obsessive genius behind what is, after all, an interactive whisky museum in Carroll Gardens. When you drink at the bar, you're drinking from Tsoumpas' personal collection." [NYDN]
Platt files one of the first detracting reviews of the Flatiron's Alegretti, giving it a measly one star: While one pasta was bland and another watery, "The heavy oxtail ravioli had the opposite problem, and so did the gnocchi, which were obscured in a starchy, Chinese-restaurant-style sauce made with artichokes and shreds of “spicy” lamb. A few of the potentially lighter entrées were overworked in a similarly aggressive way, like the cod (carpet bombed with chorizo and a fishy, orange ragout made with nuggets of baccalà), and the duck magret..." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Ryan Sutton is impressed with the new chef Michael Citarella at Freeman's, while Jay Cheshes has a similar rave for the new menu items at Union Square Cafe. Alan Richman files on the unexpected Brooklyn joints Fives Leaves and Char No. 4, Tables for Two, like Wells, is a fan of No. 7, and Moira Hodgson has a mixed review for Apiary.
THE BLOGS: Easy Ed gives an A- to Soho's Despaña, the Ubereater isn't jumping on the bandwagon for Nice Green Bo, Mona's Apple samples the new offerings at Bobo, Eating in Translation tries the brunch at Dovetail, and Salli Vates will be a winter regular at Curry-Ya.
— photo credit