Today, Sam Sifton does the Lord's work, reminding the dining populace of the existence of aging frog La Grenouille, reaffirming its three star status. He calls it "the last great French restaurant in New York," and begins his review by mourning the passing of the old guard and calling out La Grenouille as the torchbearer:
We will always have steak frites. But the quiet opulence of the traditional haute cuisine that was first brought to New York by Henri Soulé for the World’s Fair in 1939 and which flourished at his Pavillon and other restaurants in the years that followed? The whole marvelous Tom Wolfe scene of it: blanquette de veau and Beaumes-de-Venise, and ladies in finery beside gentlemen in soft cashmere jackets and rolled silk ties? C’est fini! A series of recent meals at La Grenouille suggests that isn’t so.
The rest of the review is filled with revelations. Quenelles de brochet are a "masterpiece," split pea soup "expands the mind," sweetbreads (which he feels the need to define, along with foie gras and Dover sole) "provide an instant view of a world in which plenty is not nearly so important as quality." Meanwhile that sole will "change the color of your mood ring" and the souffle is still the best in New York, as it was when Reichl reviewed the place over a decade ago. [NYT]
Sifty also finds time to file on a relative newcomer, the Russian Mari Vanna: "Vodka may be the best thing about this new Russian restaurant...But it is not the only thing. Good bread and a platter of smoked fish — eel, salmon, sturgeon and turbot — make for a marvelous pairing with beet-infused vodka...Main courses ($18 to $27) are less successful." [NYT]
There's a long and interesting aside about labor disputes in Sarah DiGregorio's review of Lan Sheng, a Sichuan restaurant in Midtown. But if you've just come for the review, know this: "I was excited about Lan Sheng: It doesn't surpass the best Sichuan restaurants in the outer boroughs, but it's certainly a good addition to the neighborhood, and a worthy rival to Szechuan Gourmet, which is on the same block." [VV]
As usual, Ryan Sutton pulls no punches on his reviews today of Abe & Arthur's (bad) and Tanuki Tavern (not so bad): "As excellent restaurants struggle to fill their books amid the economic decline, it’s unfortunate that mediocre venues like Abe & Arthur’s get away with such carelessness...Tanuki is the rare Chodorow spot that offers semi-authentic, mostly satisfying cuisine" [Bloomberg]
THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives a B to Fort Greene's Bonita replacement, Roman's, NY Barfly learns that the Stag's Head in Midtown has a great list of microbrews, NY Journal realizes the food isn't as good as the exceptional wine list at Bar Henry, The Pink Pig is mostly impressed by Bushwick neighborhood spot Northeast Kingdom, The Skinny Pig finds both contemporary and classic dishes at East Village Italian spot Giano, and Boozy NYC is mostly disappointed with both Ten Bells and Ardesia, two wine bars on different sides of town.