In one of the biggest restaurant critic disconnects in recent memory Platt gives Jean-Georges' Matsuen a one star slam today, just days after Bruni's glowing three star rave. The space, the prices, the execution of all the non-soba dishes rub Platt— and his "normally composed" wife— the wrong way (or more aptly, it unhinges them). He doesn't seem to hate it as much as Benoit, the last celeb chef venture to be on the receiving end of a Platt slam, but he inks more than a few unexpectedly harsh phrases on the soba palace:
The Hammer Drop Lede: "Who knows what causes normally composed, well-adjusted, sane people to become quietly (or in some cases, not so quietly) unhinged...maybe, as happened the other evening at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s latest experiment in international cuisine, Matsugen, it’s pretty much everything."
On the non-soba dishes: "...to provide the necessary big-restaurant heft (and cash flow), the Matsushitas have added a hodgepodge of options, including workmanlike tempura, pricey, uninspired sushi, even a ridiculously effete version of shabu-shabu...we called for some sushi, which was professionally made but would have been better if the uni hadn't tasted several days too old...the seared fatty tuna belly was insipid, and ridiculously expensive..."
On the space: "...this Zenlike touch has a minimal effect on the fractured, boxy space, and the new restaurant's identity is featureless and opaque."
On the shabu-shabu: "Then there's the shabu-shabu, which is hoisted to the table like a camping kit, with raw ingredients, a pot of tepid water, and the portable gas burner. I didn't have the nerve to pay $160 for a taste of boiled Wagyu beef...my friend the Steak Loon did. "It might be the greatest waste of good beef in history," he said.
Mrs: Platt's take: "Cold, gummy soba noodles for dinner? That's not going to work...This is supposed to be a dignified restaurant. You can't charge New Yorkers a hundred bucks ($160, actually) for some cold Kobe beef (Wagyu, actually), and ask them to cook it. I'll go to Koreatown for that!"
Not quite the "superior," "brave," and "excellent" restaurant described by the Brunz.
· Week in Reviews: Matsugen Gets the Tres [~E~]
· Week in Reviews: A Closer Look at the Benoit Take-Down" [~E~]