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Week in Reviews: Szechuan Gourmet Gets the Deuce

Photo via Midtown Lunch

The Bruni throws out another wild card this week, pulls a 'Spicy & Tasty', and awards a somewhat obscure Chinese restaurant, Midtown's Szechuan Gourmet, two stars. A big highlight is when he tells Spicy & Tasty fans they don't have to trek to Flushing to find good Chinese anymore, but most of the word count is devoted to the heat:

"At Szechuan Gourmet...the heat is almost always on, and it comes at you in different ways. Sometimes it hits you full blast with your first bite of a dish and never lets up. Sometimes it starts small and builds, a late bloomer. And sometimes it lies in wait, biding its time before stating its case.

It’s fickle, tricky, fierce. It can light a match to your tongue, numb your lips, snap you to attention and do a job on your stomach that lasts a good long while...Sichuan’s inimitable heat is a big part — for me, the main part — of what makes this cuisine such a riveting adventure."

And for a fun bonus at the end, the Brunz gives a little kick to the place everyone's been raving about lately, Grand Sichuan: "It paled in comparison...The sauce on the sesame noodles traded sizzle for sweetness. Szechuan Gourmet wouldn’t do that." [NYT]

Ryan Sutton files on Jean Georges' Matsugen and notes that while it's a bit pricey, it's incredibly good: "Not everyone will appreciate these intense, unadulterated flavors, but those who do will regard Matsugen as Vongerichten's best since his eponymous flagship restaurant opened on New York's Upper West Side in 1997." [Bloomberg]

Alan Richman has a rare rave for East Village 'neo-Korean' joint Persimmon: "The $37, fixed-price, four-course menu transforms Korean cuisine, making it not just accessible but fascinating...I don’t want to overstate my assimilation, but I even found the kimchi stew acceptable." [GQ]

Jay Cheshes sees how Hundred Acres has transformed from Provence and isn't two impressed. He gives it a three out of six: "...the restaurant offers crowd-pleasing, affordable food, but not much that’s memorable, challenging or ideal stop for a quick burger before an Angelika flick....Other dishes...were self-consciously wholesome, pretty as a picture and mostly boring as heck." [TONY]

The RG files a poorly timed review on Sherdian Square, just a week after chef Gary Robins' departure. She gives it two stars: "On a busy night, a waiter can be hard to find. But on a quiet night, servers cluster around your table as if they were lonely...At the Russian Tea Room there wasn't a wood-burning oven, but there is at Sheridan Square. And nearly everything that comes out of it is wonderful." [NYDN]

THE ELSEWHERE: Betsy Andrews files a $25 and Under/roundup on veggie spots 'Snice, Crisp, and Maoz Vegetarian, Moira Hodgson is the latest critic to pan Benoit, Tables for Two finally gets to try Adour, Paul Adams actually is impressed with the seasonal and affordable food at Hundred Acres, and Sietsema tries some Egyptian in Ridgewood at Pharoh Café.

THE BLOGS: Ed Levine give an A- to Blue Ribbon Bakery Market, Cleaned My Plate notes that Babbo is still good after all these years, Goodies First has a decent time at newcomer James, Writing with My Mouth Full makes a trip to Islands, NYC Food Guy has a prix fixe brunch at Yuca Bar, and Pink Pig tries out the new Mercadito Cantina.


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