Sam Sifton decides that, despite its three item menu and costumed waitresses, French import Le Relais de Venise is "terrific", and it merits one star. Sifty seems to like the concept of the place, the setting, the idea of drinking plonk with cheap meat, the image of "women in uniform standing over dark wood and marble" more than the food. But here's what he says about the steak, and more importantly, the sauce that people line up for in London in Paris (and maybe, someday, though probably not, New York):
The beef is fine, sliced thin across the grain and as tender as cheap meat gets, a perfect midweek dinner with a friend. The fries rate higher on the crazy-good scale: salty and crisp, with tender interiors that aren’t mushy even when soaked in the sauce.
On the subject of that sauce, much has been written. Little is known...butter, basically, infused with herbs and mustard and cream, with a metallic tang of chicken liver running right through its middle. Whatever it is at L’Entrecôte, you could pour the stuff over a boot and still have an excellent dinner.[NYT]
Ryan Sutton remains enamored with Stone Barns but has a slam for Blue Hill in the city: "Barber...said that the Obama visit has exposed Blue Hill to a broader clientele and it might have helped business 'a little.' As that happens, he should pay more attention to his kitchen there and to Trevor Kunk, chef de cuisine. Striped bass...can be great when rare, but not here, where it’s assertively salty, tough and gelatinous from undercooking." [Bloomberg]
Alan Richman is relieved that Charles Gabriel is still cooking the best fried chicken in NYC up in Harlem: "I'm a Northerner...but I swear this was chicken that any cook could crow about. The coating wasn't particularly thick, but it was luscious and crisp...The meat was sweet, with a hint of spice, and absurdly juicy." [GQ]
The Cuozz loves Ed Brown and what he's doing at Ed's Chowder House: "This is one of those new restaurants that certain pompous critics won’t get. Its menu breaks no new ground. There’s no 'concept'...But it makes the work of seafood wizard Ed Brown available at prices more reasonable than ever before...and it gives owner Jeffrey Chodorow, who’d become something of a punch line, a new lease on life." [NYP]
THE ELSEWHERE: Oliver Strand tries the sandwiches at Crosby Connection, Saltie, and Barros Luco, Gael Greene finds small portions, middling service, but mostly good food at the new Casa Lever, Restaurant Girl wishes for a quieter Abe & Arthur's, Tables for Two checks in on Brooklyn pizza newcomer Saraghina, Sietsema finds perfect fried seafood and more off the last stop on the L train at Ambiance, Jay Cheshes gives three out of five stars to Ed's Chowder House, and Sarah DiGregorio writes there's a key ingredient missing (love!) at the new SD26.
THE BLOGS: The Pink Pig finds Mari Vanna "happy" and "cool" on Halloween night, Immaculate Infatuation thinks Mike's Bistro does Kosher right despite its "glorified basement" setting, Sietsema blogs about Bill's Bar and (Meh) Burger, NYJournal deems Jo's a better fit for the space and neighborhood than erstwhile occupant Tasting Room, Ed Levine gives a B to Amazing 66 in Chinatown, Eating with my Mouth Full loves the food, not the crowd at Travertine, Hungry Roach has a rave for Tipsy Parson, and Gastro Chic is disappointed by West Branch.