Four years after Frank Bruni slapped Taavo Somer and partner William Tigertt with a goose egg for their hip LES joint Freemans, Sam Sifton hands down victory...of sorts. Today he awards one star to their three month-old "vaguely Southern" restaurant on the Bowery, Peels. He seems equally annoyed and delighted by the scene, cutely poking fun at the models and the surfers but ending the review by saying, "The aesthetic of the room is warm and welcoming, a diner put into a home, perhaps the kitchen at Hyannis Port. It is for this feeling that we go to restaurants."
As for the food. It can be good—the granola, the biscuits, the Baja salad, squid rings—and it can also disappoint:
The entrees, however, are a mess, and have been cycling in and out of favor, most egregiously as a “crispy pulled pork” dish, gone now, that put the lie to both adjectives...fried chicken has a dull, monochromatic taste, a crispness free of salt, an interior free of sweet...The restaurant’s steaks are taken off grass-fed cattle, and butchered to the thickness of a Frisbee. This is a grim combination, leading to giant flaps of crust-free, overly chewy meat the flavor of nickels.Nickels? Yikes. But at least it's a pretty room with waitresses displaying "effortless beauty of a young woman in a Heaney poem." [NYT]
Ryan Sutton finds what he calls some of the best Southern fare in New York at Carroll Gardens' Seersucker. And Peels aint half bad either: "...order that ribeye. At $50 and feeding two, it’s a life-changing slab of cow, so big it doesn’t even fit on the plate. The flavor is unexpected: sweet, nutty, musky." [Bloomberg]
Meanwhile Steve Cuozzo samples the Southern stylings of Lowcountry in the Village. And it's another win: "Lowcountry is an odd animal: a restaurant elevated from its former state by aiming, well, lower. The owners of what was Bar Blanc dumped sleek-and-chic for rough-hewn rustic. The metamorphosis sounds like butterfly to caterpillar, but it’s a lot more likely to fly." [NYP]
THE ELSEWHERE: Betsy Andrews files an Under on Staten Island's South Indian restaurant Dosa Garden, Gael Greene is blown away by Hurricane Club, Robert Sietsema finds little to love at Hill Country Chicken, and Metromix
deems East Village newcomer Mono + Mono well worth checking out.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives an A to the three week-old Kin Shop, Law and Food have their minds blown at Blue Hill Stone Barns, The Feisty Foodie puts her birthday in Michael White's delicate hands at both Convivio and Marea, Adam Kuban wholly approves of pedigreed Best Pizza, NY Journal marvels at the variety of pasta shapes at Osteria Morini, and BoozyNYC calls out Eleven Madison Park's bar as overshadowing the food.