It's the moment the industry has been waiting six months for. New New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton has filed his first review, awarding Daniel Boulud's downtown baby DBGB two stars, the same rating DB's last venture, Bar Boulud, received from Frankie Boom Boom Bruni almost two years ago. And given Sifton's praise for all other NYC restaurants in the Boulud Empire within this piece, it looks like it's going to be a good couple of years for the Daniel.
Sammy Baby is a bit too cute right out of the gate—"HEY, ho, let’s go!" is the lede (get it?), and, of course, "His food game, as they say in rap precincts, is tight." But when he settles in, the assessment is pretty spot on: the burgers and starters are great, the entrees, too refined for the setting, the Baked Alaksa is stellar, and the sausages are where it's at:
More food-obsessed mouths, however, will desire sausages. The boudin Basque, for instance, a disc of spicy blood and pig’s-head sausage served on top of a small pool of scallion-mashed potatoes, is a wonder, the sort of dish to convert those who quail at the thought of eating offal. The Vermont...instantly legitimizes almost any combination of cheese and cased meat...[NYT]
...Mr. Boulud’s great genius is to be absolutely true both to the training and the underlying flavors of his French childhood and to the joys and pressures of being a New York businessman, always on the run. He has made being French the most American thing about him. This makes for good restaurants.
Sifty doesn't stop today with the DBGB review. He also has some thoughts, similar to Robert Sietsema's actually, about Cowgirl Seahorse in FiDi and its references to dishes of restaurants past: "Cowgirl SeaHorse isn’t a great restaurant, obviously. But like the Hall of Fame, it’s open and fun — and a house margarita paired with warm, salty tortilla chips does much to recall the freak flagship’s mood of tolerance." [NYT]
Ryan Sutton decides Oceana isn't the restaurant it once was, but it still merits a visit: "you’ll find New York seafood staples (a forgettable chowder), New England-style fare (a good lobster sandwich with bacon), mid-Atlantic mainstays (crisp, meaty crab cakes), an excellent raw bar, nods to Italy (gummy gnocchi), confused Asian, African and Indian influences and first-rate French- American desserts. And since Oceana also competes with Del Frisco’s next door, it’s also a chophouse." [Bloomberg]
Adam Platt files a twofer this week on the old-worldly glitter of UES spot Caravaggio (one star) and the disappointing Hotel Griffou on West 9th St. (zero): "...the best way to survive your ordeal at Hotel Griffou is to do what the weary boulevardier at my table did after pushing his dinner aside. Put your hand in the air, and call for another drink." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Betsy Andrews gives her seal of approval to the two week-old Luke's Lobster, Robert Sietsema is surprised to find a beer garden, KeBeer Bar & Grill, in Brighton Beach, Tables for Two can't find a bad dish at Nolita's Civetta, Gael Greene learns that Sfoglia is having a hard time keeping up with demand and suffers a long wait at the door, Jay Cheshes seems to agree with Ryan Sutton, giving Oceana three stars, and Alan Richman finds the food carefully crafted but "conspicuously unexciting" at the new A Voce Columbus.
THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives an A- to lunch at Joseph Leonard, NY Journal recommends skipping Lusso and heading to the nearby Locanda Verde instead, The Pink Pig finds a lot to like at Hearth, The Girl Who Ate Everything travels to Flushing for a delicious dinner at M&T Restaurant, Food in Mouth thinks Kwik Meal is worth its slightly expensive price point, The Hungry Roach is won over by the quirky details at Kum Gang San, and Eating Manhattan has a rave for El Chod's Eating Manhattan.