After weeks of tepid reviews from the local critics and bloggers, Colicchio & Sons, Tom Colicchio's redo of his Craftsteak space in Chelsea, earned three stars today from Sam Sifton and the New York Times. Just another reminder that it does not suck to be Tom Colicchio. Now, both Sifton's review and his blog post on Diner's Journal mention one major caveat—that this restaurant may not be this good, or even stick around, for long. But it's excellent right now:
For the moment, anyway, Mr. Colicchio’s is the must-try New York menu. His restaurant isn’t perfect. But it is exciting. And the food is terrifically good...
...It’s hard to go wrong with an appetizer of butter-poached oysters, off the regular menu. These are served in a wide bowl with celery root cooked and cut into a perfect rendition of tagliatelle pasta, with a large dab of American caviar for seasoning.
The dish is spooky perfection, crazy-making in its clean simplicity, its slinky richness. Butter traces run into oyster liquor, and the amalgamation swirls forward over the sweetness of a vegetable that acts as a starch, and carries the salty pop of the fish eggs carefully toward the tongue.
In all, he's a fan of practically everything, save some overpowered sirloin and loup de mer. To end, a note from DJ: "...one wonders how long he can really afford to be down there on 10th Avenue, cooking couture tasting menus for Manhattan aesthetes. Mr. Colicchio is burning bright. The time to go to Colicchio & Sons is now." [NYT]
Alan Richman is, for the most part, disappointed in Faustina: "You would think, with Conant in the kitchen, not much could go wrong. A lot does...the food is served in the large-plate, small-plate, whatever-plate format, which makes no sense. Never has. The Faustina menu offers nine different categories. I assure you that however you order, all manner of disparate items will somehow end up on your table, as though you and your friends went through a buffet line and brought back everything you could haul." [GQ]
Gael Greene has the early word on Jean-Georges Vongerichten's ABC Kitchen: "And I’m here for the second night in a row, drawn back by the shock that a taste epiphany can be found in a carrot salad. I know what inspired chefs can do with farm fresh beets. So the sweet audacity of exquisite end-of-winter candy striped and baby beets on thick homemade yogurt are a joy but no big surprise. Still, a carrot salad? I’m only ordering it to see why anyone would dare. It’s an instant cause for celebration at our table." [IC]
Jay Cheshes does not share Sifton's love for Colicchio & Sons, awarding it two out of five stars: "Despite high-end pretensions (a casual yet pricey saloon and a prix-fixe-only dining room), Colicchio seems only tepidly committed to delivering a real fine-dining experience. The menus on both sides suffer from a lack of personality, promising but not delivering the sorts of complex plates that Colicchio served at his monthly Tom: Tuesday Dinner..." [TONY]
THE ELSEWHERE: Betsy Andrews reports back on some hits and some misses at LES newcomer The Meatball Shop, while Pete Wells is pleasantly surprised by what they're achieving with root vegetables over at Greenpoint's Anella, Sietsema recommends the Soviet fare at Brighton Beach's Skovorodka, Tables for Two advises to stick with the snacks and skip the entrees at Jason Denton's Corsino, Sarah DiGregorio notes that the food lacks focus and verve at Colicchio & Sons, and Ryan Sutton thinks the gastro is overwhelmed by the pub at crowded Scottish spot Highlands.
THE BLOGS: Immaculate Infatuation deems Midtown East standby Le Colonial legit, Ed Levine gives The Meatball Shop a B, Fork in the Road check in on Kaz An Nou, a new French-Caribbean place in Prospect Heights, Eating in Translation thinks the flavors are as vivid as the colors at Sho Shaun Hergatt, NYC Foodie reconfirms that the pizza is "absolutely perfect" at Lucali, and NY Journal decides The Smith is worth returning to "if I were, oh, within a three-block radius."