His majesty the Bruni graces Dovetail, the newcomer taking the Upper West Side by storm, with a whopping three stars this week. It's not just that the food is oh so good or that the menu draws in the crowds in the unadventurous and "fussy" UWS. It's that the place is crafty as well:
Both he and his pastry chef, Vera Tong, come at their cooking with intellect and wit, but they seldom get too cerebral, too cute. Leaving quotation marks out of the titles of dishes, they leave it to you to make certain connections...But what does Bruni think of the drab design, maligned by other critics and reviewers?: "The inconspicuousness of the restaurant’s entrance may be bonkers or in fact brilliant, a subtle signal of Dovetail’s confidence in its inner strength. The carpeting and padded walls in the back definitely make sense. They keep noise in check." It's settled then—three stars all around. [NYT]
...you find yourself not only enjoying but also comparing the two kinds of seafood. Then you notice some seared foie gras, which may or may not be another inspired bit of culinary free-association, inasmuch as monkfish liver has been presented as the foie gras of the sea...And the real point is that such crafty plotting of a composition seems entirely plausible, given the amount of energy Mr. Fraser lavishes on his dishes.
Randall Lane gets his word in on Bar Boulud, giving it an ambivalent three of six stars. He basically agrees with all the rest about the greatness of the terrines, but also gives the entrees a brief nod: "the terrines and pâtés—eight to choose from...arrive quickly. Among them, there’s the exceptional: a lamb concoction...the unusual: a granular beef cheek...There’s also the better-than-expected: a mild headcheese...Sansonetti’s steak frites might be the best in the city. Served medium-rare with a ribbon of fat gracing an exceptionally lean strip, the steak, like a 20-year-old wine, carried flavor in waves...When I ventured further afield, I was disappointed." [TONY]
The Cuozz files on the barely open UWS spot Madaleine Mae. How could he resist when a dish is served on the Post?: "I'm glad to report that the shrimp flatter our daily product...But gluelike "Lowcountry jambalaya" should be kept as far from all media pages as possible. True, the place has been open just two weeks...But putting our name on the menu and our pages on the table got our attention right off the bat, and the move sure doesn't encourage waiting for the kitchen to settle down." [NYP]
Platt awards Bar Boulud a surprise one star this week and decides Dan has officially worn himself too thin: "My eagerly awaited portion of pork belly was crispy enough, but hard as rocks and almost too fatty to eat..the tartare de boeuf Parisien, which cost $22 (or $65 with black truffles), tasted vaguely of the refrigerator, and was the size of a peewee hockey puck...This is a harsh indictment for a chef of Boulud's stature, but then cooking for crowds is a tricky business...and franchising always has its costs." [NYM]
Right on Platt's heels this week, the RG also files on Bar Boulud. Her review reads much like Plattster's, however she asserts the pâté alone is worthy of a deuce: "Unfortunately, bold flavor combinations and inspired dishes are a rare event. The bustle of the dining room and unreliable service make for an exhausting dining experience. Trying to place an order can feel a bit like hailing a taxi in a thunderstorm. Nonetheless, the charcuterie and terrific wine list alone is worth braving the mobs that are currently descending on the upper West Side eatery." [NYDN]
THE ELSEWHERE: Meehan is at Gazala Place in Midtown West, Tables For Two dines at and dislikes East Village/NYU spot The Smith, Ryan Sutton files a twofer on newbies Merkato 55 and Madaleine Mae, Paul Adams visits Avenue C's buzzed over and then forgotten Matilda.
THE BLOGS: Andrea Strong hits up Bar Boulud, Savory Tidbits at the reopened Hakata Tonton, Project Me goes to Crave on 42nd, NYC Nosh visits Midtown East newcomer Mia Dona, Writing with my Mouth Full tries the dinner at Egg, and eateryROW checks out Quaint in Sunnyside.