Today Frank Bruni drops the onespont on the coy Williamsburg restaurant Rye. It's sexy, it's beautiful, there are some standout dishes, but overall, Franktastic is confused:
"Maybe because Rye hasn’t quite worked out what it really wants to be, it confronts you with too many riddles, complicating your effort to plot a coherent experience and undercutting its considerable sexiness and charms. Although it’s a restaurant worth knowing about, it’s not as simply and easily navigable as it should be.
"Beyond these bits of mild nonsense and odd affectation are real merit and considerable merriment...When the room is sufficiently crowded, it has a lived-in, age-softened feel. And when Mr. Elliott hits his mark, the cooking appealingly complements that atmosphere."In the end, the Brunz can't decide whether Rye is "a drinkers’ refuge with ambitious food or a proper restaurant with a particular vanity about its cocktails." [NYT]
Ryan Sutton has a rave for 17th St.'s Aldea: "Excellent, affordable food is recession-proof -- even if it’s fancy and foamy. Only two dishes hit $27. One of them is a must: tender baby goat (braised, confited and grilled) flanked by heady chanterelles and fluffy barley...This is cerebral, complex (but not complicated) fare with layered flavors." [Bloomberg]
Julia Moskin pays a visit to the much improved Benoit: "Mr. Schaedelin has sharpened the flavors, improved the desserts, and broadened the menu until it now has many of the true pleasures of Paris — though it’s still shadowed by mindless service à la Midtown. The old-school dishes are perfectly correct...But there is a hint of airline food in the blandly rich repetition and limp sides of 'mixed vegetables...'" [NYT]
The RG tries out Georges Mendes' baby Aldea, deems the food "mostly great," and awards it three stars: "...the cuttlefish comes alive in a playground of harmonious flavors...I also had an unusually tender hanger steak topped with a sunnyside-up egg and bone marrow marmalade...But there are some potholes in this menu." [NYDN]
THE ELSEWHERE: Pete Wells files on tequila bar Mayahuel, Tables for Two gives La Fonda del Sol an eight out of 10, Gael Greene loves the ice cream, hates the noise, and enjoys her gifts from the kitchen at DBGB, Robert Sietsema heads out to Flushing to try Hunan House, and Jay Cheshes thinks Terrance Brennan has nailed it with Bar Artisanal.
THE BLOGS: Nick Solares loves the beef at DBGB and gives a B to La Relais de Entrecote, The Hungry Roach has a rave for DBGB, The Food Doc is underwhelmed by Locanda Verde, The Cobble Hill Blog decides Watty & Meg isn't worth it, while Mona's Apple thinks Sfoglia is okay for the Upper East Side, and New York Journal calls Aldea the best new restaurant of the year.