This week Sam Sifton files a twofer on new Indian restaurants Tulsi and Junoon. He awards one star to the former, two stars to the latter. Tulsi, Sifton writes, has very excellent food: lamb chops that tast of "gamy perfection," a magical dish of cauliflower, "a wickedly fine duck moilee," and a "deeply flavorful" curried monkfish served with breads that "perform marvels alongside the food." Why just a onespot? The place looks cheap, the lighting is bad, and the service could use some work. In other words, "It is not a particularly enjoyable place to eat dinner.
Meanwhile, at Junoon, the food is also good! And there's this:
Junoon is comfortable and elegant, almost more than the two Tamarind restaurants, in the Flatiron and in TriBeCa, to which it will inevitably be compared. Its design and service style hint at the kind of European-style sumptuousness that used to be common to upscale restaurants in Manhattan...It is a very nice place to spend a few hours...The food at Tulsi may be slightly better, but Junoon gets the extra star. Because "restaurants are always about more than simply the food." [NYT]
Sam Sifton finds a mixed bag at David Burke's new David Burke Kitchen: "Back in the kitchen, his cooks were salting some of the food almost to the point of craziness...These are early days, though, and a lobster soup showed Mr. Burke’s work in better light...a small portion of dates, bacon and peanut butter took the star turn ($7): equally flavorful and funny, a perfect combination of salt, sugar and fat." [NYT]
Here, just a brief glimpse at Ryan Sutton's meal at super popular but very terrible steakhouse Del Frisco's: "Mealy tomatoes are $14. Caesar salad tastes pre-fabricated. The burnt cheddar on a $16 burger does a fine impression of a drink coaster. Oysters sometimes arrive carelessly shucked with their bellies popped and liquor drained. Correctly preparing tuna tartare requires a sharp knife; They must be using plastic here, given the mushy mess that arrives for dolloping on soggy toast." [Bloomberg]
Like Sifton, Steve Cuozzo thinks Tulsi is not much to look at but loves what's going on in the kitchen: "Mathur's regional Indian-inspired creations are original, complex and steeped in powerful, mysterious curries that stay in your mind for days. Breads are sensational...Vegetarian dishes are another strength." [NYP]
Plattypants takes the week off and the Robs award four Underground Gourmet stars to newish Hell's Kitchen Korean restaurant Danji: "It would seem, considering the good Thai-style chicken wings, the better Korean fried chicken wings, and the tender fried calamari with a mild wasabi mayo, that the chef has, if not a death wish for his customers, a healthy appreciation for bar food. Of all the artery cloggers, though, our favorite was the deep-fried tofu..." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Sam Sifton experiences missteps galore at Todd English's ever-packed clubby Asian spot Ember Room, Tables for Two encounters some authenticity and some fancy pants interpretations of down home Austrian food at Edi & The Wolf, Gael Greene finds there's more than just David Burke's usual theatrics at David Burke Kitchen,
THE BLOGS: Gastro Chic notes that despite the restaurant's inconsistencies, there's a lot to recommend at FishTag, Law & Food has an exquisite meal at Ai Fiori, Immaculate Infatuation stops by old school joint Da Umberto, The Hungry Roach follows the Sifty Fifty to Prime Meats, Serious Eats gives an A- to the dinner at M. Wells, Project Me has a wonderful birthday dinner at Marea, and Always Be Eating finds the dinner at Lincoln swoonworthy.