This week, three major critics, Robert Sietsema of the Voice, Ryan Sutton of Bloomberg, and Jay Cheshes of Time Out New York, weigh in on La Mar Cebicheria, the splashy new Peruvian restaurant in the former Tabla space.
First the bad news. Sutton sums the restaurant up thusly: "I’d say that La Mar is a fair, forgettable restaurant serving family-friendly, generic versions of Peruvian cuisine. The food will neither offend nor inspire. It’s the Andean equivalent of TGI Friday’s." Sietsema concurs on the mains but loves the ceviches: "A slightly confusing bill of fare has been set before you. Here's a hint: Anything made with raw fish is spectacular...Once into the arena of traditional peasant fare, the menu founders badly. The national dish of aji de gallina—shreds of poultry in a fiery yellow sauce—is here rendered as bland breast in something resembling salt-free Velveeta."
Cheshes, on the other hand, doesn't see those flaws. In a four star review he writes, "La Mar, our first world-class Peruvian import—which opened recently in Tabla’s old duplex space—finally offers a taste of what all that fuss is about." [VV; Bloomberg; TONY]
Eric Asimov awards two stars to an excellent and under publicized French Vietnamese spot Rouge et Blanc: "...here on a SoHo side street, you have a small bistro that takes a fresh approach to combining France and Vietnam. Partly, that’s by blending fresh herbs, tangy sauces and other Vietnamese ingredients with French techniques. Other times, dishes evocative of Vietnam are juxtaposed with the thoughtful list of French wines. It all comes together in a quiet, simply attractive room with few airs or pretensions." [NYT]
Steve Cuozzo has a slam for Nolitan Hotel restaurant Ellabess, awarding it a half star: "Ellabess is one of those places to dread on general principle. Another erratic bistro in another also-ran hotel, with another too-long trek to the bathroom. It isn’t quite a bad restaurant, mind you, so much as an inexplicable one." [NYP]
THE ELSEWHERE: Jane Black enjoys the fresh baked offerings at new Brooklyn bakery Bien Cuit, Julia Moskin finds great food, inhospitable service, and some undrinkable beers at Birreria, Lauren Shockey loves the crispy beef at Red Farm, La Promenade des Anglais doesn't transport Gael Greene to Nice, but she likes it just fine, and Tables for Two walks away from a meal at Kajitsu feeling revitalized.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives an A to the pastries and a B+ to the lunch at Soho newcomer Dominique Ansel Bakery, Gotham Gal finds some outstanding and some just okay dishes at Il Buco Cena, Immaculate Infatuation discovers fine dining for dudes at Hospoda, NYC Food Guy is disappointed by the prices and the food at Peels, and Smith & Ratliff stops into the John Dory Oyster Bar for FergusStock.