"Bar Boulud is a terrine machine, a pâté-a-palooza, dedicated to the proposition that discerning New Yorkers aren't getting nearly enough concentrated, sculptured, gelatinous animal fat, at least not of a superior caliber...Franktastic doesn't share in the other critics' disappointment—with the price point and the ambiance, this place was never meant to be a temple of haute French cuisine: "Daniel Boulud finding more glory in lunchtime sandwiches than in dinnertime lamb stew? It's a new era, and Bar Boulud belongs to it." [NYT]
From all of these you can assemble an oversize snack or undersize meal, to be rounded out with wine from a list that's a knockout in terms of its tight focus, its enterprising selections, its elegant organization and its price range...
...all but one of the entrees on a recent menu were under $30. That’s a clue to the limited ambitions that Mr. Boulud and his executive chef, Damian Sansonetti, have for the dishes beyond the charcuterie, and that’s the context in which their efforts and output should be evaluated. Sure, there's little wow from the kitchen, which turns out treatments of salmon, sea bass and roasted chicken that, while not quite losers, are definitely snoozers."
Ryan Sutton files a twofer on newcomers Olana and Elettaria this week, and while both have decent food, the settings miss the mark: "Meet Olana...Bar patrons with bottles of cheap beer mingled. Backlit landscape paintings exuded a tacky glare. One gentleman sported a gimme cap, backwards, of course. Soporific elevator music pumped through the sound system. Is this an after-work hangout?...Meet Elettaria. It's in an insufficient West Village space. Picture a trans-Atlantic flight in economy class. Identical discomfort available here...As an aisle seat occupant, I got bumped and shoved. By busboys, waiters and anyone walking to the bathrooms." [Bloomberg]
Randall Lane files on Adour this week and awards a staggering five of six stars to Ducasse's new project: "Here, wine is the muse—Esnault and Ducasse created the menu with Adour’s sommeliers—and the wine program instantly ranks among the city’s top three...Similarly, Esnault’s lighter, more contemporary version of haute French that he brought to the Essex House returns—at roughly half the price...There are just as many head-turners here—if you order right." [TONY]
The Cuozz checks in on Dovetail this week, and he does not see what all the fuss is about. In fact he has a beef with these over zealous critics: "Restaurant critics enamored of their own star-power have showered the joint with twinklers...With the sole exception of Moira Hodgson's 2 1/2-star write-up in the Observer, it was a "me-too" chorus among critics who believe diners still hang on their numerically precise pronouncements. Chef John Fraser is turning out plenty of fine dishes. But many places with food that is just as decent - or better - have received only two stars..." [NYP]
The RG checks in on South Gate, Kerry Heffernan's new high end restaurant in the Essex House and gives it a measly 1.5 stars. Space is impressive, but the food? Not so much: "With its glitzy glass façade overlooking the park, it's a radically hip departure from Ducasse's classically French production...Beyond familiar holdovers from Eleven Madison Park, Heffernan fails to deliver new thrills. Employing a vast hodgepodge of ingredients, his dishes tend to emerge in a blizzard of flavors with little rhyme or reason to their union...The meat entrees were an altogether grim roster of consistently fatty cuts, stripped of critical succulence." [NYDN]
THE ELSEWHERE: Alan Richman slams the Bourdain-less Les Halles, Sietsema heads out to East Williamsburg to try the food at cocktail lounge Huckleberry Bar, Tables for Two is at tiny West Village spot Smith's, and Paul Adam's dines at the "stiff and unwelcoming" Bar Blanc.
THE BLOGS: Strong is at Commerce, NY Journal checks up on South Gate and Greenwich Steak & Burger, Gotham Gal tries impossibly popular LES joint Allen & Delancey, Pink Pig weighs in on UWS phenom Dovetail, Cleaned My Plate at Olana, and Project Me takes a ride to Blue Hill at Stone Barns.