Today Frank Bruni files on the kitschy seafood castle from Ken Friedman and chef April Bloomfeld, The John Dory. Much is exemplary, much is overwhelming, and in sum it gets two stars:
"It’s a seafood house, but with the gastronomic muscle, swagger and — it often seems — cholesterol count of a steak place...It’s all very 'Finding Nemo,' or maybe losing Nemo, because the impact of this visual chaos...can be to give you a maritime migraine...
Nemo gets lost in another sense as well. In Ms. Bloomfield’s laudable determination not to treat seafood as lean and pristine cuisine, she sometimes goes too far....With other dishes, though, Ms. Bloomfield’s revel in richness and big flavors pays off.All that said, he appreciates her spunk: "There are nervy surprises. For a while Ms. Bloomfield served pan-fried milt...I admire her immensely. [NYT]
Frying, roasting, grilling: the kitchen, under her supervision, does all of this expertly...But experienced in aggregate, too many dishes are too blunt. The overall flavor spectrum is too narrow, a wallow in buttery, creamy and salty effects..."
Sarah DiGregorio isn't totally blown away by Jim Lahey's Co.: "Four slices, two leaves of basil. My friend asked if it was possible to get a few extra leaves of basil, and was told no, that was not possible...Plus, the tomato sauce, while zesty and exceedingly fresh-tasting, is a bit acidic and one-note, lacking the rounded complexity of a great tomato sauce." [VV]
The Brunski revisits A Voce to see how Missy Robbins is running the show after the departure of Andrew Carmellini: "She’s the one following the really tough act. Judging from a recent dinner, she isn’t (and needn’t be) bowed by that. She has skills and sound judgment, and under her guidance A Voce turns out food with grace and gusto." [NYT]
In one of her stranger picks in recent memory, The RG visit's East Village "ghetto molecular gastronomy" spot Desnuda and gives it three stars: "Dinner at Desnuda isn't just dinner. It's edible, interactive performance art...For a dish called ceviche mixto, he mixes salmon, scallops and tuna with cinnamon, lemon, lime, shallots, Sprite, and rocoto paste, made from a South American pepper." [NYDN]
In the Plattster's stead, the Robs review two "pop-up" restaurants, Damon: Frugal Firdays and Beer Table's Tuesday night dinner, awarding them each 3 UG stars. On Damon: "Damon Wise...is a serious cook...his menu is playful, global in inspiration, and peppered with haute touches like savory jams, marmalades, and gelées embellishing dishes." And Beer Table: "...chef Julie Farias whips up three courses that, at $25, represent one of the best values in town on any night of the week." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Oliver Schwaner-Albright likes the bar snacks at Wilfie & Nell, The Cuozz finds dinner at Gordon Ramsay at the London better than mediocre though overpriced and disconnected, Sietsema treks out to Richmond hill to try the Surinamese-Indonesian hawker stall Warung Kario, Jay Cheshes gives Alex Raij's Basque tapas joint Txikito four of six stars, Ryan Sutton deems Craft a four star restaurant for the recession, and Alan Richman finds Austrian joint Seasonal admirably complex.
THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives a B to newcomer Hanci Turkish Cuisine, Cleaned My Plate has a mixed bag for Irving Mill, Savory Cities deems Co. ethereal, Wined & Dined thinks Lelabar is reason enough to move to the West Village, The Girl Who Ate Everything tries Pizza Suprema when Co. is closed, Writing with My Mouth Full waits for Adamson to pull out the guns at Vinegar Hill House, and Goodies First tries the Restaurant Week deal at Chinatown Brasserie.