Frank Bruni files a twofer this week on Spanish spots La Fonda del Sol in Midtown and Txikito in Chelsea. The schmancy La Fonda, an attempted "revivial" of an old classic (that Bruni deems more gimmick than revival), and its chef Josh DeChellis earn two stars, while the more casual Txikito, headed up by food world darling Alex Raij, earns one star. First, La Fonda:
"Although the menu has weak spots, with a few too many dishes not from the heart but from a marketing plan, his cooking here feels less forced and more exuberant than it did at any of the other restaurants where I tried it. More important, it reflects a steady, precise hand."
"Her menu at Txikito maintains her focus on tapas-style dishes, including pintxoak (Basque canapés), but is by far the longest and most complicated she’s done — maybe too long and complicated, given the constraints of a visibly tiny kitchen. Across many meals here I had wonderfully memorable food...ridiculous food...food that fell somewhere in between...and food that never tasted the same twice."[NYT]
The Cuozz loves the accessibility, the decor of Graydon Carter's Monkey Bar, but the food?: "...exactly three (3!) dishes of 20-odd I tried afforded pleasure...Most everything else on the English grill/country club-fusion menu betrayed a plodding, seasoning-averse kitchen and dubious raw materials...Monkey Bar is a grand place to be, but I'd like something worth eating to go with the murals and mirrors." [NYP]
With the exception of the pasta zsa zsa and the wine list, Robert Sietsema has a fat and happy time at the new Minetta Tavern: "The new menu might be termed 'transgressional cuisine,' since it undermines everything nutritionists (and Mayor Bloomberg) have been telling you. It does this by delivering the greasiest and most vegetable-free bistro standards it can find, repackaged as hip comfort food." [VV]
The RG checks out Zak Pelaccio's newest, Fatty Crab UWS, and awards it four RG stars: "There's nothing civilized or subdued about dinner at Fatty Crab, which is exactly what makes it so fun...Pelaccio reminds us just how talented he is, and other than a few missteps, the newest Fatty Crab deserves destination status." [NYDN]
In Platt's stead, the Robs file on relative newcomer Sorella on the LES, awarding it four Underground Gourmet stars: "There is an air of luxury about the place, but it’s a reasonably affordable luxury, conveyed through the inherent richness of the food and celebration of the region that inspired it." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Bruni endures the vocal histrionics at Inakaya, the offerings at Citi Field may turn Ryan Sutton into a Mets fan, Ligaya Mishan tries the fondue and wine in baby bottles at La Cave des Fondus, Sarah DiGregorio tries out Williamsburg banh mi newcomers Bêp and Nhá Tôi, Tables to Two discovers Schnipper's Quality Kitchen is perfect for franchising, and Jay Cheshes compares the new locations of Fatty Crab, Shake Shack, 'inoteca, and Boqueria to the originals.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats checks in on the fabulous Downtown Bakery, Writing with my Mouth Full has some service issues at what she thinks is Tsuki, Ed Levine gives a B+ to Wechsler's Currywurst Bratwurst, and The Hungry Roach checks in on Avenue A's Flea Market Cafe