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Two Stars for the Fine Food, Sad Dining Room at Aquavit

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This Week Sam Sifton awards two stars to 23 year-old Scandanavian restaurant Aquavit, a restaurant that twice earned a threespot with its former chef Marcus Samuelsson. Now that new chef Marcus Jernmark is at the stoves, there's a little less pizazz but still some fine pickled herring:

Mr. Jernmark has moved the menu toward a quiet, seasonal intensity that is well worth investigating. Mr. Samuelsson’s cooking used international flair to introduce Scandinavian flavors to Americans who knew only of Midwestern smorgasbords. Mr. Jernmark’s take is at once more modest and difficult, the taste of a Sweden proud of its traditions, its larder and the bounty of its sea, fields and lakes.
The sad thing is the restaurant is half empty, forlorn, and a little worse for wear: "Mr. Jernmark and his staff are cooking and serving excellent food at Aquavit, bold and honest. It is time for the restaurant’s owners to match their commitment, and to freshen up the dining rooms." [NYT]

The Cuozz is pretty smitten with feminine and fun Russian restaurant Mari Vanna: "Mari Vanna’s food isn’t two-star stuff, but the place is a two-star experience. Everything comes freshly made out of chef Dennis Franke’s kitchen behind frosted, mullioned windows. Appetizers delight...Entrees aren’t bad, but bland." [NYP]

Ryan Sutton rates 16 of the city's lobster rolls and finds most of them lacking. Luke's, Pearl's, and Red Hook Lobster Pound are called out as the best, but he also checks in on Ed's Lobster Bar (awful), Delicatessen (awful), Mermaid Inn (barely edible), BLT Fish (rip-off), Lure (serviceable), Ditch Plains (fair), Ed's Chowder House (very good), and Mary's Fish Camp (very good). [Bloomberg]

Jay Cheshes is mostly unimpressed with The Plaza Fod Hall by Todd English: "Diners can order from any of the stations—including a raw bar, pizza shop, sushi counter and more—no matter where they happen to sit. But beyond the showmanship lurks cooking with about as much soul as a cruise-ship buffet." [TONY]

Alan Richman calls Midtown Greek restaurant Milos the best restaurant in New York with the fewest number of critic's stars: "To me, Milos in New York is one of the best Greek restaurants in the world, rivaled only by Milos in Montreal and Milos in Athens...Should you dine at Milos and order a meal of octopus, loup de mer, and honey and yogurt, I am pretty certain you'll never think about fine-dining in quite the same way again." [GQ]

THE ELSEWHERE: Betsy Andrews enjoys Ditmas Park's new wine bat Castello Plan, Tables for Two encourages a stop at sandwich shop This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef, Gael Greene checks out Ma Peche and Co Ba, Both Dave Cook and Robert Sietsema sample some Hong Kong comfort food out of clay pots at A-Wah in Chinatown, and Metromix discovers fine food, terrible everything else at gastropub Rabbit in the Moon.

THE BLOGS: Clinton Hill Blog is a fan of the prices and portion size at newcomer Dino, Serious Eats gives a B to the new outpost of Xi'an Famous Foods, The Pink Pig is surprised to find the menu at Traif bereft of pork, and while he thinks the name unfitting, he enjoys his meal. NY Journal has a rave for the rotating specials at The Spotted Pig and adamantly declares that April Bloomfield "rocks," The Hungry Roach surfs through waves of marine species at Mermaid Oyster Bar, Immaculate Infatuation displays some reverence for Epic Meal heavyweight Momofuku Ko, and Law and Food gets great service and inventive food at LIC's M. Wells.

Aquavit

65 East 55th Street, Manhattan, NY 10022 (212) 307-7311 Visit Website

This Little Piggy

149 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003 212 253 1500 Visit Website

Má Pêche

15 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019 Visit Website

Aquavit

65 East 55th St., New York, NY

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