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Stripping Oceana of a Star, Sifty Gives her a Deuce

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Horine, 8/5/09

Like the critics before him, Sam Sifton deems the new version of the once intimate (and some would say outdated) Oceana too big, too uneven. Instead of courting discerning and wealthy regulars, they're after the hordes; and they lose a star. He files a twospot:

Those who order carefully can partake of fabulous meals. They will certainly drink good wine, off a whites-heavy list that is ably negotiated by both waiters and sommeliers alike. But if the Oceana of old was a pleasant, shipshape room with elegant food and a caring touch, the new version is a high-functioning luxury mill, designed to service pre-theater crowds and to celebrate corporate success on expense-account dimes. It is in some ways a very good restaurant. But the room ensures that it is not entirely a pleasant one.

Sifty's recs: the raw bar, a couple of the apps, the roast chicken, any of the whole and simply prepared fish, the crab legs. To skip: anything complicated, the fried calamari, the chowder. He compliments chef Ben Pollinger and his pastry chef Jansen Chan but figures it's a little too hit or miss for the three, concluding, "This is a kind of excellence, anyway. And those crab legs are ridiculously good." [NYT]

The Cuozz declares this a spectacular season for Italian restaurants while naming A Voce Columbus one of its best stars. He gives it a threespot: "A Voce joins Manhattan’s high-achieving, envelope-stretching class that includes Babbo, Marea, Convivio, Scarpetta, SD26, Esca and Del Posto...Hers are meals to relish on the long, cold nights to come, if you don’t mind a room that looks and feels like the high-floor dining venue of a convention hotel and a noise level that can rival Madison Square Garden after a rare Knicks win." [NYP]

Gael Greene likes Jeffrey Chodorow's Tanuki Tavern more than she thought she would: "I’m already thinking we might go back one evening for more hit-and-miss but amusing Japanese-American fusion. Togarashi-spiced French fries. Little neck clams and sake angel hair. Miso braised-marrow bone with black lava sea salt. Could be fun." [Insatiable Critic]

Plattypants crushes Oceana, saying the lauded seafood palace lost its way after a move from a townhouse to a midtown airplane hangar. He gives it one star: "The original, Michelin-starred Oceana was a showplace for high-wire seafood cooking of the most effete kind...that approach has been scrapped in favor of a more familiar, user-friendly, pan-globalist style...Will this slightly uneven food translate into Michelin stars for the grandiose new Oceana 2.0? Possibly not. But Michelin stars are less important these days than profits..." [NYM]

THE ELSEWHERE: Ligaya Mishan files an Under on Umi Non, the new Filipino restaurant in Forte Greene, Tables for Two has a mixed review for Quinto Quarto, noticing even the staff doesn't want to eat there regularly, Jay Cheshes awards Travertine three stars, and Sietsema finds revelatory fare from the Shandong province at M & T Restaurant in Flushing.

THE BLOGS: The Skinny Pig has mostly good things to say about Maialino, Pink Pig also has an excellent Maialino experience, NY Journal likes Kajitsu about as much as a carnivore can, A Life with Food and Drink gets the goods on Jason and Joe Denton's Corsino, Tiger in the Kitchen finds a mixed bag at Purple Yam, and Ed Levine gives an A- to the week-old mezzanine service at Ma Peche.

Tanuki Tavern

18 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY 10014 Visit Website

Má Pêche

15 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019 Visit Website

Oceana

1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY

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