Sam Sifton, a critic who seems very familiar with the ways of Maryland, gives a goose egg to two month old Chesapeake Bay-themed restaurant Choptank. He seems to deduct points for a lack of authenticity. Shrimp are too neatly piled, soup has the wrong base, no paper tablecloths or steamed crabs, a vibe "suburban, as safe as Cal Ripken." Of course, these clunkers didn't help:
The fried chicken: "pale and flabby on one night; greasy and dense another."
The oysters: "could use a dip in batter and some time in the fryer."
The crab dip: "out of a Junior League cookbook, with potato chips russet with Old Bay seasoning, all celery salt and heat."
The ham and biscuits "church-supper Virginia ham, with biscuits that taste morning-made and midday-refrigerated."
The Steak: "puts you right back into a New York winter: eating B-minus food with friends, throwing money down a hatch"
The sorbet: "tastes like a candle"
That said, Sifty does mention some standouts, including an excellent rock-shrimp taco plate, "beautifully made" braised octopus, a bowl of roasted mushrooms that he calls "a marvel of haunting taste," along with a "decent" hamburger, and a "handsome" oyster po'boy. In the end, he's disappointed because, "New Yorkers probably deserve better. Certainly better is available." [NYT]
Sifton also launches some barbs at the newish neighborhood spot in Brooklyn Heights Bread and Butter: "The fried chicken, though, wan and chewy, rather than crusted and rich, raises ire...it has barely a lead on what you’d find at a steam-table salad bar somewhere along Second Avenue...first-apartment food in a bedroom community one stop from Wall Street, comforting only in name. It’s depressing." [NYT]
Jay Cheshes also has a review for the West Village's Choptank, giving it three out of five stars: "While Choptank is not my first choice among the neighborhood fish shacks, it’s certainly an improvement on the restaurant that last inhabited this awkward parcel of real estate—the dyspeptic Pan-Asian Bar-Q...The menu...is as generically pleasing as the decor. The dishes, which run the gamut from lowbrow bar food to urbane composed plates, don’t add up to a coherent identity." [TONY]
Ryan Sutton files on the steak, the scene, the spaetzle at Prime Meats in Carroll Gardens: "The year-old Prime Meats is a competitor not just to Luger, but to every steakhouse in Manhattan. And it’s found a niche with a German bent (soft, malty pretzels) and a bargain strip steak ($23)." That said, "Sometimes the hip slacker factor goes overboard." [Bloomberg]
Adam Platt files on Tom Colicchio's big second return to the kitchen, Colicchio & Sons, and finds that the celeb chef is "behind the curve, battling to catch up." It gets one star: "the overall impression, as one item succeeds another, is of a kitchen throwing as many flavor combinations at the wall as possible, in the hopes that one or two of them will stick. If you choose wisely, several of them actually do." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Julia Moskin reports that Testaccio in Long Island City is better than the average mid-priced Italian, Robert Sietsema heads out to Bay Ridge to file on the two highlights, Tanoreen and Athens Express, Tables for Two notes that Standard Grill chef Dan Silverman "misses as often as he hits," Gael Greene doesn't feel cool enough to hang at Bagatelle, but notes that the food isn't all bad.
THE BLOGS: Life with Food and Drink finds the pizza fantastic but perhaps not as good as Motorino at Ovest in Chelsea, The Food Doc files on the first night at JGV's Mark and likens the offerings to "hotel food," the Pink Pig has some old fashioned hare at Cercle Rouge, Immaculate Infatuation figures either the food has gone downhill at Landmarc or their standards are now higher, while the Serious Eats squad tackle the enjoyable Mimi's Hummus and new sister spot Castello Plan in Ditmas Park.