It's been about three weeks since El Chod & Co. debuted the revamped Ono space in the Hotel Gansevoort as Tanuki Tavern ("Tanuki," for those who are wondering, refers to a big-balled Japanese raccoon dog believed to bring good luck to booze and chow establishments). Fashioned as an izakaya with the touches you'd expect from a place in the Gansevoort that's masterminded by the dude who owns China Grill, there are over 70 items on offer. Has our good friend managed a successful resuscitation and relative scale-down? Not clear. Onto the mixed early word.
The Solid News: More of a positive overview of the offerings than an actual review, Serious Eats recently ran a write up on the place should help bring in some diners. Some excerpts: "It has something I've never seen in a sake bar before: beef marrow bones. Or, to be more specific: Beef marrow bone, a single femur split vertically down the middle and braised with miso and served with black lava sea salt and toast ($8). The chance to eat rich, unctuous marrow bones sliced in this manner while seated at a bar is a pleasure...There's a decent sake list too, including an aged one. What really got my attention though was Ginga Kogen Premium Unfiltered Beer ($10). It's a delicious, fruity hefeweizen, or wheat beer." Also loves the "tasty burger" and the "inventive rolls," except for the "staid" California. [SE]
The Bad News: Shecky's isn't digging it: "It certainly tries to stand out...Unfortunately, the result is an oddly uncomfortable mix of boutique hotel hip and cutesy Asian camp...Things get truly goofy upstairs, where, surrounding a series of round tables, lavender and pink wallpaper features anime-inspired graphics that make Hello Kitty look almost death metal in comparison. Even the aspiring-model wait staff escapes having to wear standard-issue black (though at this point, we half-expected to be served by Sailor Moon). Snacks such as the fish and chips ($9) don't offend, but clash with smiley designer drinks with Pokemon card names, like the Pom Poko (Patron, muddled strawberries and honey ginger syrup) and the Green Pikapika (Grey Goose, sake and Midori, both $12). Is it possible to be overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time?" [Shecky's]
The Good, But Probably Unreliable News: Over on opentable, as is the case with 99% of places, the restaurant is getting some love. Says one happy customer: "Surprisingly good. Sashimi was fresh and delicious, as good as any quality sushi restaurant. Service was attentive and friendly. Couple of dishes need work but overall a good menu." Another user's words: ""kind, attentive staff, awesome new decor from what Ono was... must try the burger!" [OT]
The This Is A Trainwreck News: Commenter jrhaber posts the following: "Ate here last week and the food was terrible and they can't make a decent drink. The sushi was not fresh and nothing we tried was impressive. We didn't have a reservation and they told us we could sit at the bar or outside, but the restaurant was EMPTY!! Do not go to this place." Yikes. [Eater Comments]