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Week in Reviews: Eighty One Gets the Deuce

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Krieger, 2/23/08

The Bruni visits Ed Brown's fancy pants Eighty One on the UWS this week. There's a lot to like, but if there's one thing Franktastic can't stand, it's fussiness (or in this case "preening"):

"Ed Brown, the chef and principal owner, is an indisputably gifted cook, and he’s put together an indisputably serious restaurant.

...But it provides an especially clear example of a kind of culinary preening — call it ego food — that may speak less to the satisfaction of customers than to the self-regard of proprietors, who want you to marvel at the effort-per-bite ratio and the variety of techniques at play.

It goes so far as to title a section of the menu in which it lists spotlighted dishes the “tasting collection.” When you see something like that, you’re less inclined to overlook a restaurant’s shortcomings."

Oh and a nota bene to all chefs out there— the Bruni doesn't like his food done "three ways": "I felt like a captive on a cruise, being hustled too quickly to too many ports of call: Acapulco! Puerto Vallarta! Mazatlán! Couldn’t I linger for just a bit?" [NYT]

Alan Richman decides the slices at Artichoke almost make up for the absurd understaffing: "At Artichoke Basille’s, you don’t just get pizza. You get blessed relief from all the sanctimonious pizza now being peddled in New York...This is the way ordinary food used to taste in New York—superficially no different from food anywhere else, but in reality considerably better." [GQ]

Ryan Sutton is a big fan of Bar Q and its owner Anita Lo: "She's one of the city's few female chefs with a Michelin star (for Annisa). And judging from my meals during Bar Q's opening month, Lo deserves that accolade...Lo, along with Momofuku's David Chang, represents the forefront of modern Asian-American cooking." [Bloomberg]

The RG reviews De Niro's Ago this week, and gives it one star. For what it's worth she hates the design, loves the small plates, and is disgusted by most mains: "Didn't Ago get the memo about New York's newfound predilection for modest restaurants with modest prices? This is a big-city restaurant with prices to match, but there aren't enough reliable pleasures or sparks of invention on this tired Italian menu." [NYDN]

Platt files a two-fer this week and grants two stars each to Olana and Mia Dona. Though Plattster finds Olana "overpolished" and "overembroidered" and Mia Dona lacking in ambiance, the cooking by Al Di Meglio at the former and Michael Psilakis at the latter win him over. [NYM]

THE ELSEWHERE: Peter Meehan files a twofer on Punjab and Polish G. I. Delicatessen, Jay Cheshes gives a whopping 5 out of 6 stars to Amanda Freitag's revamping of The Harrison, Paul Adams is at Tribeca charmer Duane Park Cafe, Sietsema is at Arthue Avenue's Estrellita Poblana III, Gael Greene gives a mixed review to Wildwood, and Tables for Two is a fan of Commerce.

THE BLOGS: Ed Levine awards Wildwood a B, Fork in the Road tries Brooklyn's branch of Ghenet, The Wandering Eater goes to lunch at The Little Owl, Gastro Chic tries Ducasse's Benoit, Writing With My Mouth Full is at the FCI's L'Ecole, Cleaned My Plate has an okay time at Cookshop, and NY Journal tries Wildwood.

Artichoke Pizza

328 East 14th Street, New York, NY 10003

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