Frank takes a break from reviewing high profile restaurants, hits up Soho's small and BYOB La Sirène, and gives it a huge one star. The food is pretty much an afterthought in this review, as it sounds like the real romance is with the small restaurant itself and and the personality of the frantic chef:
"It was the riddle and spectacle of Mr. Pawlicki himself, a scolding, coddling, hyperactive presence who ricochets so rapidly through the restaurant’s cramped quarters — from the kitchen to the dining room and even into the basement, where he keeps diners’ coats...In the end, it sounds like Franktastic is straight up tired of schmancey chefs and their stuffy service: "It deserves a moment of notice, and so does Mr. Pawlicki, 49, a transplanted Frenchman as proud and dedicated as his more celebrated peers, which means just about all of them." [NYT]
...I don’t want to oversell La Sirène, which opened last spring. It operates on a shoestring, doesn’t have a liquor license and doesn’t ace many of the dishes on its relatively short French menu...But this scrappy restaurant...will charm many people turned off by the vacuous polish and higher prices elsewhere."
Alan Richman tries out the Essex House's newest resident South Gate, and pretty much sums it up with his lede and his closing sentence: "South Gate has top names: food by Kerry Heffernan, design by Tony Chi. What it lacks is an identity...You'll have no chance of making it to the bathroom without someone leading the way, and you won't finish a course without a waiter interrupting to ask if everything is okay. The answer: Not yet." [GQ]
The Cuozz had high hopes for Marcus Samuelsson's Merkato 55, but ends up disappointed: "But my taste of buzzing, African-inspired Merkato 55 recalls the prematurely truncated love affairs single New Yorkers whine about - from frenzied lust to flameout in a week's time...Samuelsson, who claims 'I'm there all the time,' wasn't on two of my three visits. Yesterday, he was flying to Chicago." [NYP]
The RG takes the trip to Woodside this week to deem specialty market cum restaurant Sapori d'Ischia worthy of her two stars. The rules are a tad excessive, the pizzas, somewhat floppy, but overall the place is worth the trip: "It seems presumptuous for a wholesale store that peddles imported goods by day to enforce such vigilant decrees of dining by night...Before you protest, taste the signature fettuccine al'Antonio: It's an exalted rite of passage that should be their Eleventh Commandment...this eight-year-old eatery doesn't so much clamor for your attention as command it." [NYDN]
After a month-long hiatus, Platt visits Alain Ducasse's new venture, Adour. And while not much time is spent praising the food, the place still earns three stars: "...you can’t help feeling that this time around, the grand culinary maestro has scaled everything down several keys, that he’s engaged in a willful, somewhat studied attempt not to be Ducasse...Whether New Yorkers will embrace this new version of Ducasse Lite is anyone’s guess. With recession looming, the maestro’s timing, again, couldn’t be worse. But this is a more settled, less histrionic performance than the last one, and ultimately more satisfying." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Meehan finds some killer pizza at Bushwick's Roberta's, Ryan Sutton has tea and dinner at the newly revamped Plaza, Randall Lane three of sixes Merkato 55, Paul Adams tries the likable though theme-y Madaleine Mae, Richard Vines reviews the staple Babbo, Tables for Two checks in on Pelaccio's "wayward" Chop Suey, Sietsema has some Fujianese at LES joint Food sing, and Gael Greene files on South Gate in the Essex House.