This week, Sam Sifton takes aim at the new iteration of Aureole, the once "creamy" townhouse restaurant serving audacious American food that this year reopened as a cafeteria hawking great burgers to midtown workers at Bank of America and Conde Nast. He gives it one star. After touching upon the trajectory of owner and original chef Charlie Palmer and the former impressiveness of the restaurant, Sifty sums up its current state thusly:
Times change. In 2007, Mr. Palmer announced plans to move the restaurant south, into bigger digs. The result is a Las Vegas event restaurant airlifted into Manhattan, a corporate cafeteria with a soundtrack of smooth jazz in the George Benson style. The food can be quite good. It can also be the opposite.
Aureole, as the New York expression goes, is meh.
...if your order goes well with the kitchen, you can have a good meal. If it doesn’t, you’ll be staring down a listless Wiener schnitzel, pale and greasy beneath a thick lemon-caper sauce, with too-tart applesauce. Or at dry veal tenderloin with charred onions...Sifton goes on to report that there is excellent bar food—try the burger, the onion rings, the sliders—but that in the end, it is "a love letter to an America we see reflected back at us in unflattering light: relatively happy, unthinking, desirous mostly of sugar and fat. That’s Vegas for you. It’s not New York." [NYT]
Sam Sifton offers a Brief on Prime Meats, a restaurant he hints he'll give a full review once the main dining room opens: "The menu is currently small. But it delivers...The hamburger ($13 and up) is one of the better in this burger-mad city...Steaks are more complicated...It is sold here by the ounce, $1.80 per. (That’s prime.) It’s very good meat, though, from Creekstone Farms, with a nice mineral tang and served with plenty of crust." [NYT]
Alan Richman concedes that the food is still fine at San Domenico's reincarnation, SD26, but he isn't buying the new technology and scene: "The brand new SD26, open less than two months, is either convoluted/newfangled or fresh/contemporary, depending on your sensibility—or maybe your age. What's clear thus far is that it is enormously busy, despite or because of many gimmicks, much noise, considerable chaos." [GQ]
The Plattster files on A Voce Columbus, noting impressive entrees and marginally disappointing pastas. He awards it the threespot: "But the real revelation at the new A Voce is the cooking. Robbins retains the structure (and even the typesetting) of Carmellini’s original menu, but in this grand new setting she makes it uniquely her own." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Oliver Strand finds the food "nice enough" but the cocktails steal the show at Yerba Buena Perry, The Hungry Roach has a rave for Sorella, Gael Greene deems SD26 a thoughtful work in progress, Tables for Two, unlike Sam Sifton, isn't totally won over by Prime Meats, Sarah DiGregorio urges readers to overlook the setting and try the excellent Malaysian fare at Laut, Metromix has an epically terrible meal at Mercat Negre, Robert Sietsema finds a lot to like (and a waiter to hate) at Abe & Arthur's, Jay Cheshes gives three stars to SD26, and Ryan Sutton files on some hits, some misses, some hefty price tags and slivers of truffles at SD26 and A Voce Columbus.
THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives an A- to the brunch at Brooklyn Star, Writing with my Mouth Full falls for Diner, Food in Mouth reflects on the shwarma sandwiches at Mamouns, Immaculate Infatuation isn't won over by Ruby's notorious burgers, and there's a new Pierogi round up on Restaurant Girl.