Interim Times restaurant critic Eric Asimov awards one star to Taavo Somer's Isa in Williamsburg. He finds some hits and misses on the menu:
Steak tartare is served in a decorous circle, beefy and pure, blended with a sunchoke purée with a little pile of brown flax — "soil," the menu calls it — for crunchy contrast. I was not moved by a plate of daikon, seaweed and horseradish, a kind of amplified bitterness in which each bite seemed to result in a grimace.Asimov takes issue with the fact that there are only two entree-sized dishes on the menu, which don't change that much from visit to visit. He likes dining room's "perfectionistic primitivism," but says that the bathroom is "so painfully bright, so full of hard glossy surfaces and pounding with music at head-splitting volume from an ear-level speaker that you cannot make your escape fast enough." [NYT]
Ryan Sutton likes what he finds at the revamped Monkey Bar: "The Midtown power spot, famous for serving mediocre fare to the famous, is now dispensing very good American food and extraordinary cocktails to celebs and hoi polloi alike." Sutton awards it two stars. [Bloomberg]
Robert Sietsema enjoys many of the small plates (if not the big ones) at Seamus Mullen's Tertulia: "There's a tortilla Española—what we'd call a frittata—made with potatoes and onions and almost unspeakably plain. I loved it. And a bowl of mussels ($13) animated with green chilies, apple cider, and luxuriant chunks of bacon—it won't make you wish you were in a Belgian restaurant instead. " [Village Voice]
Adam Platt likes the food at expensive modern Korean newcomer Jung Sik but awards it just one star: "...it's hard not to feel that infectious, communal quality that makes good Korean cooking special being slowly leached out of the meal. One problem is the dreary, slightly haunted setting...Another is the prix fixe setup, which, aside from the cost, adds a stagy formality to the proceedings." [NYM]
Jay Cheshes approves of the room and the cocktails but not all of the food at Saxon & Parole: "A mini mason jar of portobello mushroom mousse, a dish for the table so rich it's like trompe l'oeil foie gras, delivers a rare thrill in an otherwise humdrum lineup. Egg salad folded with chopped razor clams is upscale coffeeshop cooking with its aioli and chervil—tasty, yes, but not very exciting. The actual foie gras offering, a dense torchon, is textbook creamy, and straight-up boring." He awards it three stars. [TONY]
THE ELSEWHERE: Dave Cook finds great Latin-American food at East Harlem newcomer Aqua Fresca, Julia Moskin encounters some problems with the menu and execution at Alfama, and Lauren Shockey digs the hot pots at Hot Kitchen in the East Village.
THE BLOGS: The Food Doc has a wonderful five course dinner at Lincoln, Immaculate Infatuation gives the thumbs up to East Village newcomer Prima, Eating in Translation has a sloppy sandwich at Sauce, NY Journal finds no fireworks but appreciates the technical accuracy of Daniel, Feisty Foodie finds a lot to like at China Cafe but doesn't appreciate them manhandling the leftovers, NYC Foodie finds stiff service but supuerb food at Del Posto, and The Pink Pig thinks the menu is too jumbled at Saxon & Parole and the prices too high at Mas Le Grillade.