Today, Sam Sifton files a glowing two star review of Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield's re-do of the John Dory Oyster Bar in the Ace Hotel. Apart from the wait and the no-reservations policy, Sifton is smitten with the place, and especially Bloomfield's nuanced seafood dishes:
Her food can be astonishing. Take a dish the menu tartly calls chorizo stuffed squid with smoked tomato...Ms. Bloomfield buys whole Rhode Island squid and stuffs it with paella rice she cooks with chorizo, red pepper, onion and saffron... A cook sears the squid just long enough to heat the rice through and give its body a faint crust, then places it on a soft bed of tiny white beans cooked in crème fraîche, with a cloak of those smoked tomatoes and a hat of cilantro. It costs $15. It is among the best things you can eat in New York City.
Although the first incarnation of The Dory also earned two stars in 2009 from Frank Bruni, Sifton thinks this one trumps the original: "the John Dory Oyster Bar is in all a much better restaurant than its forebear, more fully realized in its open, clattering space behind giant windows, with excellent service and a marvelous wine list." [NYT]
Adam Platt files a twofer on Shea Gallante's new Italian spot Ciano (two stars) and Laurent Manrique's French joint Millesime (one). He says of the latter: "...the haphazard, jury-rigged space at the Carlton still feels less like a grand big-city stage than like the mezzanine dining room of a randomly upscale suburban hotel. But thanks to Manrique and his executive chef, Alan Ashkinaze, you can now get a decent rendition of pike quenelles when you visit..." [NYM]
Ryan Sutton enjoys the food, the room and the wine at Michael White's Ai Fiori. His takeaway: "This is all a luxurious, Monte Carlo-esque hybrid of Italian and French Riviera cuisines." As a test, Sutton intentionally planned several visits to the restaurant while White was away in Singapore working on his next venture. But even without the big name chef in the house, he found that the kitchen delivered. [Bloomberg]
The Post's Steve Cuozzo also files on Ai Fiori, giving it three stars. One dish in particular, totally blows him away: "I remembered butter-poached lobster at Per Se, and wondered: Can 'Italian' chef Michael White top the dish that Thomas Keller made famous, inspiring innumerable copycats around the world? One bite, and I forgot Keller." Cuozzo later calls it "just the greatest dish in the world." [NYP]
TONY's Jay Cheshes likes, but doesn't love former Cru chef Shea Gallante's new Flatiron Italian restaurant Ciano: "The chef, justly acclaimed at his last post for his haute cuisine derring-do (he sauced tuna in espresso, and teamed langoustines with papaya and gin) plays it much safer this time around. His new menu’s rib-sticking pleasures may be easy to like, but they’re just as easy to forget." He awards it three stars. [TONY]
THE ELSEWHERE: Gael Greene is charmed by the solid food and convivial dining room at Geoffrey Zakarian's The National, Tables for Two finds some hits and some misses at Rubirosa in Nolita, Robert Sietsema loves the inexpensive Mexican fare at bodega-cafe Cholulita in Bed-Stuy, Lauren Shockey is disappointed with most of Nikki Cascone's "global-Jewish" cuisine at Octavia's Porch but especially those latkes, and Dave Cook finds some cheap, unexpected delights at Gottscheer Hall Tap Room in Ridgewood, Queens.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives a B to Goat Town, New York Journal finds ample portions but somewhat boring food at Graffit and also skillfully executed but unoriginal fare at The National, Off the Presses samples the cocktails at the John Dory, Immaculate Infatuation is unimpressed with 1 or 8, Law and Food files on Convivio post-Michael White and the burgers at The Brindle Room, and Marie Fromage likes the selection at The Little Cheese Pub.