Today Sam Sifton ventures out to Bay Ridge to sample much-heralded neighborhood Middle-Eastern, Tanoreen: "Tanoreen is, at the end, a deeply individualistic restaurant. Ms. Bishara is a Brooklynite, though also a Palestinian raised in Israel, where her brother served in the Knesset. Her restaurant has a Lebanese name. She sprinkles basil over her lamb." He awards it the onespot, and finds that the best way to go at this family-run eatery is to focus on the apps:
It is smarter, perhaps, to order more from the appetizer lists — some small spinach or meat pies, for instance, and a plate of kibbe, the fried nuggets of ground lamb and spices that are meat’s answer to M&M’s, followed by some ridiculously flavorful stuffed grape leaves. Then share sparingly of the main courses, along with some simply sautéed spinach or kale.
But if you do order entrees: “The best of the entrees include lamb fette, traditionally a breakfast dish, here layered with toasted pita and yogurt, chickpeas and mountains of meat flavored with Ms. Bishara’s secret blend of Tanoreen spices (cinnamon, coriander, cumin, some nutmeg, dried ginger, rosebuds and pixie dust), with pilaf cut through with vermicelli. It would serve a platoon of Marines.” And in the end: “Is such cooking authentic? Yes, though no. It doesn’t matter and who cares. It’s mostly delicious. Authenticity, anyway, is almost always a lie.” [NYT]
Despite rendering the presentation of the crabcakes comical, Robert Sietsema seems very pleased with Choptank: "But then the crabcake ($24) hove into view, and we nearly burst into laughter; not because the crabcake was too small (indeed, it was 80 percent the size of Faidley's, which is still gigantic), but because of the seemingly random objects set around it on the plate. The thought that a line cook had so carefully arranged a teetering pile of four saltines, a single pickled yellow pepper, and a wedge of iceberg lettuce struck us as comical. Nevertheless, the generosity of the crabcake and its clean, fresh flavor were remarkable." [VV]
The Insatiable Gael Greene revisits Picholine and is mostly pleased: “I’m not expecting a swarm of hip young people. Banishing Pavarotti for Diane Krall on the sound system didn’t do much to lower the mean age here. It’s cheering enough not to need a flashlight to read the menu and talk without shouting. It’s not as sexy as Daniel or as vibrant as Le Bernardin, but it’s hardly an old folks’ spa. Affluent urbanites come here for celebrations, birthdays and anniversaries, and performers meet friends for supper after the concert. Once you start eating, you won’t care who’s sitting across the way. " [Insatiable Critic]
THE ELSEWHERE: $25 and Under files on Taiwanese pork bun haven, Baohaus on the LES, the Cuozz loves the fried chicken at West Village newcomer, Choptank, Sarah DiGregorio reports on the Guggenheim's The Wright, Jay Cheshes revisits Tabla for TONY and awards it four stars, Tables for Two is a fan of the decadent menu at Maialino, and Metromix reviews K-town eatery, Haru Hana.