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Week in Reviews: Benoit Sneaks By With a One

Krieger, 4/16/08

Today the Brun Dog follows up Platt's Monday goose egg with a fairly straightforward one star. Like Platt, Bruni is disappointed in Ducasse, thought he was a better chef, a better restaurateur, than this. However, he finds enough charming and dependable to give AD a break:

"Don’t get me wrong: Benoit isn’t a bad restaurant, nor is it a throwaway restaurant, not even close. It has many enviable, pleasurable virtues...But Benoit is selling a dining experience so familiar it’s almost a cliché, and that puts a particular premium on seamless execution, lest the production feel phony and cynical.

...With a museum-piece restaurant like this, the difference between timeless and somewhat tired — between utterly delighting and intermittently amusing — is in its fluency and diction. And Benoit could speak better French.

...I wanted less of the recklessly intense shellfish reduction on the lobster ravioli, and I wanted more of everything — meat, seasoning, joy — in the cassoulet. Speaking of which, this is a summer menu? What’s on the winter one, chilled gazpacho?"

In sum, place is decent, but not a home run for Ducasse. And Frank thinks he knows why: "Although Mr. Ducasse plays only a supervisory role, has he done it cavalierly, distracted by — and more invested in — Adour Alain Ducasse." [NYT]

New Upper East Side Italian Alloro has found a local fan in The Cuozz: "Five pasta dishes I had there just might be the best five I've had at any one place this year. In a decade of writing about restaurants, I've been careful never to tout a favorite new joint close to my home...But I'm irrationally taken with Alloro's screaming-green floor and chairs in two tiny rooms." [NYP]

Jay Cheshes is the latest critic to weigh in on Scott Conant's Scarpetta, giving it four out of six stars: "It may be the least obnoxious restaurant to open in the neighborhood in years...Starters offer a sort of greatest hits of Conant’s earlier work...Entrées—mostly on the lusty, peasant end of the Italian food spectrum—are where Conant falters." [TONY]

The RG two stars Hundred Acres this week, and while her review of the food is middle of the road, she gets a bit poetic in her setup: "Imagine a restaurant on a quaint, tree-lined street. Nearby, a few lonely restaurants attract just enough attention to survive. But this one is haunted - haunted by the ghosts of restaurants past...You open the menu and it's a palimpsest - traces of the old menu visible behind the new one...The street is MacDougal, the restaurant is Hundred Acres, and the ghost is Provence." [NYDN]

The Plattster is back in the saddle this week to lay a big fat goose egg on Alain Ducasse's Benoit: "...the tedious, connect-the-dots menu at Benoit makes Balthazar seem like a hotbed of culinary invention...Is it possible to detect even a hint of Ducasse’s touch in any of this cooking? Of course not. In the context of the chef’s far-flung empire...Benoit feels like a sad border outpost." [NYM]

THE ELSEWHERE: Paul Adams thinks Cafe Society is all over the place, Alan Richman has some issues with Hundred Acres, Julia Moskin files a round-up/review on four dessert-based trucks for the $25 and Under, Sarah DiGregorio finds a Ko alternative in Persimmon, and Justin Rocket Silverman finds Clover Club genius and enchanting.

THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives the Thai-Latin cuisine at Talay a B, NYC Foodie has a good burger and cold fries at Five Napkin Burger, the AG files on Grand Sichuan, eateryROW checks in on Hotel Delmano, Cleaned My Plate checks out the summer menu at Park Avenue Summer, and Feisty Foodie goes to chocolate haven Max Brenner for brunch.

Benoit Bistro

60 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019 646 943 7373

Scarpetta

88 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10016 (212) 691-0555 Visit Website

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