Eric Asimov is mostly won over by Seasonal's attempt to modernize Austrian staples in their understated Midtown space. He loves certain dishes—the pork belly, the potato and pumpkin soups, the lobster, the kaisergulasch—but nitpicks quite a bit, noting whether this dish or that is "Austrian" enough for his liking:
This is one of the challenges of modern global gastronomy: How do you present regional cooking in new guises without stealing its character? At one extreme is utter simplicity: you exalt the familiar with the best possible ingredients, achieving surprise through sheer quality. At the other is molecular gastronomy, which, by disguising familiar ingredients and flavors, offers the thrill of tasting them anew. Seäsonal stakes out territory in the middle, combining fine ingredients and modern techniques in a demonstration of the benefits and flaws of its approach.In the end, it earns two stars. [NYT]
According to Steve Cuozzo new Italian restaurant Morso proves that Pino Luongo is now "a shadow of the Tuscan pioneer he was": "Osso buco fell short of dissolving blissfully on the tongue. “Crispy” artichokes arrived soggy, lemon sole irredeemably overcooked. Worst of all, tough, blubbery and tired-tasting steamed mussels scraped bottom in watery tomato broth." [NYP]
Robert Sietsema enjoys the adventurous menu at Gowanus' new clam shack Littleneck: "the most spectacular appearance of Brooklyn's iconic bivalve is on a clam roll ($16), featuring full-belly littlenecks with creamy tartar sauce and a few shreds of lettuce for color contrast. Even in Connecticut—which is famous for its clam rolls—you can't get a better one." [VV]
Jay Cheshes contends that Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria finally did the restaurant/retail mashup right: "Young chef Justin Smillie (Barbuto, Standard Grill) does a convincing job conjuring the ghosts of Il Buco’s humble past...One minute you’re tackling greaseless fish sticks of fried baccalà (house-cured salt cod) with lemony mayo, and falling-off-the-bone lamb ribs with a sweet caramel sheen and a dollop of nutty romesco, and the next thing you know, you’ve moved from barstool to table, called friends to join you, and settled in for a feast." [TONY]
Adam Platt awards four stars to the revamp of Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin: "It may take time for some of us to acclimate to this racy new look, but happily nothing much has changed in Ripert’s legendary kitchen. The new $120 prix fixe menu looks more complicated than before...but the dishes are still divided into Ripert’s sacred categories...and the best of them are still worth the price of admission." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Julia Moskin finds dinner at Jason Denton's Betto comparable to dinner at home in the best way possible, Betsy Andrews is underwhelmed by the service but enjoys the bar snacks at sceney Pulqueria, Gael Greene finds some standouts among the misses and undersized portions at Kutsher's, and Tables for Two recommends skipping the chicken and sticking with the ceviche at La Mar Cebicheria.
THE BLOGS: The Immaculate Infatuation boys love the fried pie at Forcella and think Sons of Essex isn't as bad as it could have been, Eat Big Apple finds Lotus of Siam disappointing at those prices, NYC Foodie has some lovely red sauce Italian at Ballato's, The Food Doc enjoys but isn't blown away by Romera, NY Journal finds a lot to like at Kutsher's, and Gastro Chic encounters some hits and some misses at new Brooklyn gastropub Allswell.