This week Sam Sifton files on Jeffrey Chodorow's latest project, the bright red, space-age Spanish restaurant on the second floor of the Eventi Hotel, Bar Basque. He gives it just one star. The food is pretty wonderful he says, the wine list too. But it loses points for pretty much everything else:
At Bar Basque, Mr. Chodorow has taken a thrilling cuisine and able practitioners of it, and put them in what amounts to a nightclub.Sifton concludes that he'd rather eat the restaurant's food "in some place less jittery, less obviously geared toward artifice, with waiters who don’t wear Secret Service earpieces hovering about." [NYT]
The cynicism of this enterprise is notable. The most comfortable parts of the restaurant are inside the main structure of the hotel, near the bar, where the bulk of the money is made. They are not in the dining room, which takes up a long, glass-ceilinged balcony space attached to the side of the hotel in the manner of a lanai off a house in suburban Miami.
It is uncomfortable out there...The food is balm against annoyance.
Julia Moskin files a positive Brief on Sara Jenkins' work at Porsena: "If Porchetta is a spare and brilliant short story, Porsena is a fantastically readable novel...For the main-course brigade, there is a lush and crackly bowl of penne with roasted cauliflower and oily bread crumbs ($15)...small twists in “una marea di formaggi,” an ocean of cheeses that includes a tangy whiff of blue ($17). These are all memorably delicious." [NYT]
Robert Sietsema likes what he sees (and eats) at Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster in Harlem: "With his slender good looks, winning smile, and captivating born-in-Ethiopia/raised-in-Sweden backstory, he was famous before he had a chance to fully come into his own culinarily. At Red Rooster he finally has, effortlessly blending East African, Scandinavian, and North American influences in a wacky fusion that somehow works." [VV]
Steve Cuozzo awards just one star to the experimental Upper West Side Spanish restaurant Graffit: "Graffit isn't a terrible restaurant, but one flying miles below its stratospheric self-image...Uncharacteristically straightforward venison was a $26 bargain entree, perfectly cooked with lush chestnut purée. But after that, get out the paint remover. Chewy cuttlefish ($23) topped a "stew" involving gummy, sweet tomato sauce, curly pasta and black squid ink you'll do best not to touch unless you want to look like a coal miner." [NYP]
Adam Platt, not easily won over by the room, the inconsistency, drops a deuce on Ai Fiori today: "Consistency has been an issue at Osteria Morini, and it’s an issue here too. One of my finicky fish-obsessed guests noted that his $49 portion of wild Dover sole had more than a few pin bones, and my generous bowl of bouillabaisse was filled with well-cooked seafood (red snapper, calamari, langoustines) but short on saffron broth. If you’re a devoted meat eater, the lamb chops are things of beauty...as are the wine-braised daube-style beef cheeks." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Tables for Two has a rave for Annisa, Gael Greene seems to have more misses than hits at Stadium Grill at Bowlmor, Lauren Shockey likes the food at Avenue C German restaurant Edi & The Wolf but she likes the fun vibe even more, and Jay Cheshes finds the fare at newish Tribeca chefs table Compose derivative, pricey, and precious.
THE BLOGS: Wined & Dined pays a final visit to Zarela, The Pink Pig finds Lincoln a "a lovely, polished, relaxing experience," Gotham Gal praises Niko and likes Ai Fiori, calling it another potential win for Michael White, New York Journal does not love the food at Junoon, but is haunted by the offerings at Lyon, Immaculate Infatuation is confused by the space at Socarrat Nolita and finds the food pointless at El Camion, The Food Doc enjoyed a splendid meal at Park Avenue Winter, Eat Big Apple has a great experience at The Astor Room, The Oyster Blog enjoyed absinthe and oysters at Maison Premiere, and Serious Eats gives an A- to Ardesia.