Two years after slamming his 7th Avenue Italian spot Morandi with a one star review, Frank Bruni vindicates Keith McNally, giving his newest, Minetta Tavern, three stars. Yes you'd expect the atmosphere, Bruni says; yes you'd expect the celebs (note REM's Mike Mills in the Times' photograph. update—the Mills camp denies); yes you'd expect decent food, but this?:
"But were you prepared for a côte de boeuf like Minetta’s, a sublime hunk of glorious meat that you dream about hours later, pine for the next day and extol in a manner so rapturous and nonstop that friends begin to worry less about your cholesterol than about your sanity?The Best. Steakhouse. In. The. City. Here's why:
And did you expect that Mr. McNally, with the chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, would come up with the best steakhouse in the city? That’s what Minetta Tavern turns out to be."
Better aps than Sparks. Better seafood and service than Luger. Better cheese than Keens. Better pricepoint than Craftsteak and BLT. More intimate than Primehouse or Porter House: "It finds him in a more ambitious mood than at other restaurants he’s opened over the last decade, in terms of what’s on the plate." [NYT]
Jay Cheshes checks in on how Doug Psaltis is doing at Smith's, awarding it 3 out of 6 stars: "Young chef Doug Psaltis (of Country and Mix) has unveiled a new menu heavy on comfort-food crowd-pleasers—pork belly, ribs, mac and cheese, apple pie—that's not quite distinctive enough to build back the buzz this restaurant needs...The à la carte menu is a mixed bag of the pretty good and the almost great, the kitchen too often falling just short of the mark." [TONY]
Plattypants files on Midtown's Seasonal, a spot representing the New World Order left after the economic hurricane. He gives her three: "The clientele...don’t look like they’re there because they’ve just read about the restaurant on a blog or in a review. They look like they’re there for the quaint, old-fashioned reason that someone told them the joint served really good food." [NYM]
The RG heads to the Williamsburg's candle-lit restaurant under a music venue, Vutera, giving it three stars: "Del Monte makes the most of the four electric stoves. I'm not sure how she manages to pull off such a crispy-skinned poussin...There's a lot of neighborhoods and a lot of restaurants, but I live in midtown Manhattan and I'll be back to Vutera." [NYDN]
THE ELSEWHERE: Bruni finds a meal at Sorella uneven and unnerving, Oliver Schwaner-Albright finds a Turkish oasis in Hell's Kitchen at Hanci, Alan Richman gives a little more background on his controversial pizza list, Gourmet decides the menu at Table 8 has already reached perfection, and Tables For Two is won over by Cyril Renaud's work at Bar Breton.
THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives a B+ to Bar Artisanal and Always Hungry agrees with the grade; The Hungry Roach takes the rare visit to a Chinese restaurant with Grand Sichuan, NY Journal assesses the hot dog at Elettaria, and Dudes on Foods has a slideshow of some dishes at the week-old Times Building restaurant, Montenapo.