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Week in Reviews: Union Square Cafe Reduced to Two

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Frank Bruni reserves his third to last review for snatching a star from Danny Meyer's Union Square Cafe on his way out. The restaurant—popular, humble, and famous for offering some of the most accommodating service in the industry—is slipping, reports an unmade Brunz. He awards it two stars:

I never had an experience whose caliber was consonant with the restaurant’s enduringly lofty reputation. I had a few flatly mediocre meals. More surprisingly, I had service that, for all its transcendent geniality, sometimes failed in the particulars...During a visit early last month...we didn’t have real drinks until we’d been sitting for a solid 40 minutes.

But how's the food?

...Their kitchen turns out some fine Italian dishes, including those lamb chops, butchered, seasoned and grilled in a flavorful fashion that indeed took me back to Rome...the “crispy duck confit” can’t be as leaden and dry as it was one of the two recent times I had it....The shell steak has to be richer and juicier, and there has to be more, better lobster at the bottom of the lobster “shepherd’s pie"...
To close, Frankie Boo explains why he's done what he's done here today: "Union Square’s performance isn’t keeping pace with its favor. And I’d like to think that as humble as it endeavors to be, it has too much pride to let that stand." [NYT]

In the Cuozz's takedown of Soho West's Harbour, he notes the restaurant is asking for "right in the kisser": "things at Harbour are not fine. Not the service, not the shtick and definitely not the food...the staff is better versed in piscene politics than in what's on the plate...we all want to 'sustain' the sea's bounty -- but first, let's learn to cook it." [NYP]

Jay Cheshes isn't as impressed with the FiDi bohemoth Sho Shaun Hergatt as some other critics were, awarding it three stars: "The awkward mouthful of a restaurant..harks back to the gilded age of junk bonds, Miami Vice fashions and late nights at Nell’s...Everything here is designed to dazzle...Though his food is beautifully presented and expertly cooked, too much of it is as dated as the setting." [TONY]

The RG files on the new chic Hotel Griffou. She loves the cocktails and the room but not much else, giving it two stars: "It's a shame the rest of the menu isn't very good...Either I have a bigger appetite than most of their guests or the portions are way too tiny...As for the market greens, I'd be embarrassed to serve it at a backyard barbecue..." [NYDN]

In Plattypants' stead the Robs award four UG stars to Mimi's Hummus in Ditmas Park: "...there’s more to Mimi’s than mashed chickpeas. Take, for instance, the cauliflower salad...It’s the best thing to happen to cauliflower since Dévi’s cracklike Manchurian version...The ground-lamb an unequivocal success, and the tart tomato-and-onion salad that comes with it a refreshing foil." [NYM]

THE ELSEWHERE: Oliver Schwaner-Albright finds another pizzeria that isn't just a pizzeria in Bed-Stuy's Saraghina, Gourmet is impressed with Sfoglia sister Civetta, Gael Greene finds some hits and misses at Hotel Griffou, Ryan Sutton is back in the Hamptons reviewing Nick & Toni's and Mezzaluna, Alan Richman isn't impressed by Williamsburg's Mesa Coyoacan and The Brooklyn Star, Sietsema finds some of the freshest seafood in Brooklyn at Liman out in Sheepshead Bay, Tables for Two awesomely likens DBGB Kitchen & Bar to "seeing your dad don a motorcycle jacket," and Metromix enjoys the fresh pastas at Spina.

THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives a B+ to the Asian sandwiches at Xie Xie, Gastrochic raves about the country pork terrine on the otherwise inconsistent menu at Anella, A Tiger In The Kitchen finds that some of the food at Xie Xie is lost in translation, NY Journal writes that Corton just keeps getting better, The Hungry Roach will soon be a regular at Apiary, and Clinton Hill Blog likes the menu but not the prices at Umi Nom.

SHO Shaun Hergatt

40 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004 (212) 809-3993 Visit Website

The Brooklyn Star

593 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (718) 599-9899 Visit Website

Hotel Griffou

21 West 9th Street, New York, NY 10011 (212) 358-0228 Visit Website

Union Square Cafe

101 East 19th Street, Manhattan, NY 10003 (212) 243-4020 Visit Website