Frank 'the Matador' Bruni delivers a slam of a demotion today, stripping Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Spice Market of two of its stars, leaving it with a measly onespot. If this story sounds familiar, it's because he's done it before with a crushing double demotion of JGV's Vong and Mercer Kitchen. Let's get to the good stuff:
"Today it suggests the steepness of many a restaurant’s decline once it has made its first, glowing impression, especially if the restaurant was conceived as, or destined to be, the parent of money-making offspring elsewhere. Said restaurant comes out of the gate strong, whipping up the buzz and establishing the brand, but once that mission is accomplished, its motivation falters. Its cooking deteriorates. Sloppiness creeps in...Once a compelling destination, it’s now a modest diversion."
He has some choice words for the global chef as well:
"Mr. Vongerichten is equal parts proud artist and profit-hungry entrepreneur, on the one hand making big-hearted contributions to the city’s restaurant scene while on the other wringing as much lucre from his stardust as he can...Jean-Georges the Great helps finance and promote Wylie Dufresne at wd-50 and Jim Lahey at Co....Jean-Georges the Not-So-Great presides too distantly and cavalierly over the likes of Vong, Mercer Kitchen and Spice Market."Caa-rushing! JGV better keep a close watch over Perry St and Jean Georges before the man strips away the rest of his stars. [NYT]
Ryan Sutton finds little to like at the new addition to the New York Times Building, Montenapo: "Montenapo, like Armani Ristorante across town, serves mediocre hotel-Italian at absurd prices...I asked the waiter to pick out a wine for me, and he brought back a $24 glass of Brunello...The good news: The pastas are al dente and judiciously sauced..." [Bloomberg]
Sarah DiGregorio counts among the many critics won over by George Mendes' Aldea: "Finally, the duck rice, or arroz de pato, arrives in a big white bowl; a simple dish, it isn't trying to be anything but delicious...It's the kind of dish that makes you stop and close your eyes just to concentrate on how soulfully good it tastes." [VV]
Jay Cheshes gives FiDi fine dining relic Delmonico's two stars: "Unlike some landmark restaurants—21 Club and La Grenouille—Delmonico’s ceased to be relevant long ago. Without the institutional memory of loyal staff and devoted patrons, the place might as well be a museum. Even with a modern chef, history is all that it’s peddling." [TONY]
The RG checks out Graydon Carter's Monkey Bar, filing the expected review: scene's great, food's not. "Monkey Bar isn't really a restaurant. It's Graydon Carter's uptown dinner party...the food should be a lot better. The lobster Newburg tasted like the crustaceans died years ago, the roast halibut was horribly overcooked, and the Chasen's chili desert-dry." [NYDN]
THE ELSEWHERE: Alan Richman doesn't think Locanda Verde is all that Italian, but he likes it anyway, Tables for Two doesn't find much to get excited about at Armani Ristorante, Ligaya Mishan has a round up of biryani, Metromix files a rave for Prime Meats, Carla Spartos thinks Le Relais de Entrecote is a great deal, and Robert Sietsema does a taste test between Saigon Bakery and its neighbor An Choi.
THE BLOGS: The Food Doc thinks DBGB is good for grabbing a beer and sausages but nothing more substantial, Fork in the Road finds sophisticated Vegetarian at East Harbor, Life with Food and Drink has some of the best food of her life at Vong, and A Hamburger Today can't recommend the burger at The Smith.