Interim Times critic Eric Asimov is impressed with what chef Galen Zamarra is able to do with his stable of grills at his new West Village restaurant Mas (La Grillade), awarding it his standard two stars in what is maybe his last review:
The result is a restaurant of rare restraint and craft, where a chef who talks the talk of letting gorgeous ingredients speak for themselves actually follows through, doing little in the kitchen beyond enhancing the innately beautiful qualities of the food. This is far more difficult than it sounds. Cooking over wood with custom-designed grills, understanding the angles of heat, the qualities of various woods, the properties of coals and ashes, Mr. Zamarra manages to kiss food with smoke or flame, coaxing out delicate flavors and juicy textures that could be quashed by a more overbearing hand.Get any entree fish, the quail, the rabbit, the lamb, the soup, the oysters, the beets. Asimov writes, "In a city full of too much and too many, Mas (la grillade) is a fine example of the inspiring power of just enough." [NYT]
Robert Sietsema loves everything from the toasts to the pig at Nate Smith's new Bedford bar Allswell: "As at his previous venues, pig is big, and Smith loves to shock you with it. Instead of the usual rubbery strips, one starter featured an entire fried pig ear facing upward—as if pleading for you to repeat something you've just mumbled." [VV]
Ryan Sutton has some qualms with Chinese West Villager Red Farm and isn't really sure why people like it so much: "Red Farm is an ambitious work in progress, a frequently maddening effort to refine Cantonese-American cuisine using seasonal ingredients sourced from local purveyors." [Bloomberg]
Gael Greene doesn't love Upper West Side newcomer Elizabeth's Neighborhood Table but nearby Slightly Oliver gets a pass: "Consultant Jason Hicks from Jones Wood Foundry gets credit for coaching the kitchen on such classic pub grub, including the salt cod mash and the pies: chicken curry and steak and kidney. The resident chef, Luis Ulloa, doubling from executive chef duties at nearby Tolani, gets credit for the timing and discipline that produces tonight’s impressively moist haddock." [IC]
THE ELSEWHERE: Lauren Shockey loves the highly inventive small plates at Greenpoint's Calyer, Tables for Two notes that while it's not cheap, dinner is excellent at Boulud Sud, Julia Moskin deems West Village newcomer Tremont better than you would think it is, and Steven Stern loves both the cocktails and the British snacks at sceney new spot Whitehall.
THE BLOGS: Goodies First has Christmas up at Red Rooster, NY Journal finds the food to be excellent at Jung Sik, Eat Big Apple decides that the hot noodles make up for the long wait in the cold for Momofuku Noodle Bar, The Pink Pig prefers Meatball Factory to the Meatball Shop, and Eating in Translation tries the Venezuelan Christmas tamale, the hallaca, at Arepas Cafe.