This week Sam Sifton awards one star to three year-old Theater District Mexican spot Toloache. It's no beauty queen, and he advises to steer clear of pretty much all of the entrees, but hey, it's great when you're stuck in Midtown. Sifton notes that chef Julian Medina, "a marvelous interpreter of guacamole, of ceviche, of finishing-school tacos and wood-oven quesadillas...has built up a nice restaurant." But stick to those tacos, guac, and quesadillas please:
The quesadillas are prepared in an ample wood-assisted oven in the middle of the dining room. It is the restaurant’s hearth and centerpiece. Two stand out, though all are fairly strong in flavor and execution...The overall idea here: "Toloache is worth a second look." [NYT]
...Tacos are likewise elegant and modern, fairly spare. You might try one with a filling of braised veal cheeks, onion, cilantro and a salsa spiked with chiles de árbol; another with maitake mushrooms and more huitlacoche, cactus and queso fresco. Some diners are keen on the Oaxacan-style filling of nutty dried grasshoppers with onion and jalapeño;...The carne asada, with its grilled and salty skirt steak, is splendid.
Ryan Sutton is pleased with the lovely, quiet, affordable, and delicious Annisa: "This is very good, often three-star food that belongs to the Jean-Georges school of almost-Asian. Expect French technique and American ingredients, with hints of heat and sweet to push, if not breach, boundaries." [Bloomberg]
Jay Cheshes files on Totale and Paulie Gee's, two newish pizzerias. The former nails the classics, and serves them for just $7. And on the latter: "The best pies here are mixed-media masterworks, gingerly layering disparate elements—sweet, savory, bitter, pungent—until the whole thing makes some sort of sense." [TONY]
Gael Greene files on underpopulated and aggressively priced 10 Downing and newcomer Olio Pizza e Piu. On the pie place, "It’s now 45 minutes. My hair and t-shirt are soaked from the heat. Our pizza arrives. I want to love it. It has truly endearing bubbles of quite decent crust but, alas, a too-thick coverlet of rubbery cheese and a scattering of tomato slivers." [IC]
Plattypants descends into the bowels of the Plaza Hotel to weigh in on Todd English's Plaza Food Hall: "Does any of the cooking at the Plaza Food Hall retain the unique stamp of a great chef? Of course not. But these days, the term 'great chef' is a more diffuse, salable quality than ever, and if you’re looking for a quick meal before booking a carriage ride through the Park or plunging into the scrum at the Fifth Avenue Apple store, you could do worse." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Robert Sietsema notices that Hong Kong cuisine has spread all over New York, specifically to Yee Kee H.K. Style in Brooklyn and East Ocean Palace in Queens, Metromix is not amused b the dog bowl dinner at Xiao Ye, Julia Moskin calls The Plaza Food Hall a "glorified cafeteria", but a much needed one, and Sarah DiGregorio tries New York's only french fry and gravy po'boy at Honeychiles, the new pop-up restaurant inside Williamsburg dive the Charleston.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives a B+ to breakfast at Pies 'n' Thighs, The Hungry Roach finds some solid empanadas at Bogota in Park Slope, The General Greene seemed hellbent on doing everything wrong during the Pink Pig's visit, NY Journal has a wonderful meal at Cafe Boulud, Feisty Foodie thinks they added an unwelcome centimeter to the Shack Burgers at Shake Shack Upper East Side, Fork in the Road samples the wares at new Clinton Hill pastry shop Beny's Delice, Goodies First hits up weird mashup restaurant Katmandu Spice, and The Food Doc discovers excellent Philippine food at Payag in Woodside.