In his penultimate review, Bruni drops what is most likely his last, and sixth, four spot, a final benediction elevating Danny Meyer's Eleven Madison Park to the elite and still quite small four star club. He explains why he's reviewed this restaurant not one, but three times in five years—because it just keeps on improving: "I fell in love gradually, not all at once. The experience had a sweetness all its own." It's a love story really ending with a love letter (and a guarantee Bruni will still have a seat in the Danny Meyer Empire after snatching a star from Union Square Cafe last week).
Eleven Madison Park, which opened in 1998, now ranks among the most alluring and impressive restaurants in New York..It just needed a bit more polish in its service and a lot more sparkle in its food. Over the last three and a half years, it has received precisely that...
...Mr. Humm’s French-grounded cooking, which bridges the classically saucy decadence of the past and the progressive derring-do of a new generation, drew notice from the get-go...[NYT]
...Eleven Madison Park provides much of the ceremony and pampering associated with fine dining at its most traditional in a way that’s louder, looser and more in sync with most diners’ temperaments...it’s not quite as approachable as Gramercy Tavern or Union Square Cafe...But with Mr. Humm, 32, at the helm, young and hungry and undistracted by the kind of empire that such elders as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud have created, it shimmers in a way that none of Mr. Meyer’s many terrific restaurants ever have.
The Cuozz is won over by the Standard Grill: "It's the right eatery at the right time -- a fully realized, Modern American place amid a zoo of forward Italian, neo-Japanese, fancy steak, almost- French and wannabe Mexican joints...they're the best dishes you'll see at these prices." [NYP]
Alan Richman asks David Chang for a fried chicken resy, wondering why everyone's so excited to pay three times KFC's prices for some bird. And then: "Chang’s classic is probably the best fried chicken I’ve had in New York since the glory days of Harlem’s Charles Gabriel. The coating is thick yet crisp, the meat unusually moist. The Korean-style isn’t all that different." [GQ]
The RG gives a so-so review of the food but is enamored by the scene, the room, the prices at the Standard Grill, giving it four stars: "The Standard Grill is dressed-down food for a downtown crowd...The burger was good, not great, and the New York strip was so unevenly cooked...Seafood is really Silverman's forte. He creates wonderfully light, subtle dishes with tons of texture and flavor." [NYDN]
THE ELSEWHERE: Frank Bruni decides Bar Luna is worth a 15 block walk on the dining desert of the UWS, Betsy Andrews heads out to the Far Rockaways to sample the fish tacos at Rockaway Tacos, Gael Greene checks out Caravaggio in the old Coco Pazzo space, Jay Cheshes is pretty sure that Chris Lee's "boisterous" cooking alone can fill those tables at the new Aureole, Ryan Sutton finds some hits and misses at the mostly impressive Sho Shaun Hergatt, and Sietsema pens a roundup of new Thai spots in Astoria and Woodside.
THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives a B to Receipe on the UWS, AlwaysEating gets a huge satisfying meal at Indian street food spot Aamchi Pao, A Tiger in the Kitchen find some dishes too salty, some divine at Joseph Leonard, and Hungry Roach doesn't reach the expected pizza nirvana at Keste.