Sam Sifton, enamored of what chef Cesar Ramirez is doing with his 18 seat chef's table at Brooklyn Fare, awards the restaurant three stars. He describes dinner there as "a cavalcade, dizzying in its intensity" and calls the restaurant experience unique, even in a city as diverse as this one:
The procession was something like a meal at a sushi bar, something like a meal at Momofuku Ko, something like a course taken at the standing table in the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park, and nothing at all like any of those.He concludes, "...dinner at the restaurant has the capacity to leave customers with kaleidoscopic sense memories and the vague understanding that over the course of the meal something important has happened." [NYT]
What Mr. Ramirez is doing at the Chef’s Table is entirely his own production, a kind of sui generis exercise in personal expression. He and his staff are intensely focused, sometimes robotic. They draw no attention to themselves save for when Mr. Ramirez introduces each dish. Then there is silence as forks go to the food, and food goes into mouths and suddenly everyone starts nodding and chirping and staring at cooks who suddenly might as well be magicians.
Jay Cheshes awards three stars to Sara Jenkins' Porsena: "Like visiting a solicitous neighbor whose kitchen is always stocked with good things to eat, it’s easy for a visitor to imagine Jenkins happily tending the range here, glass of red wine in one hand, sauté pan in the other...The best of her pastas are spontaneous and comforting." [TONY]
Steve Cuozzo awards two and a half stars to Imperial No. 9 and seems surprised at the quality of the food given the buzzy nature of the restaurant: "Sam Talbot’s menu aims not for grandeur but for good, clean fun. It delivers more than you expect from a chef better-known for his “Top Chef” persona than for a track record in actual restaurants. This is party-animal feed for adult animals, mingling pungent notes of Asia and Talbot’s native Charleston, SC." [NYP]
Robert Sietsema goes to the incredibly popular and impossibly noisy new Hofbrau Bierhaus in Midtown and checks out their food: "While the beers seemed expensive at $8 per half-liter stein, the food was remarkably cheap given the size of the portions. Unfortunately, much of it was awful, with a frozen-and-reheated taste that explained how the menu manages to be so ambitious." [VV]
THE ELSEWHERE: Tables for Two finally finds great Mexican out at the tiny Queens storefront Tortelleria Nixtamal, Gael Greene finds some disappointments but big improvements over the last three months at Red Rooster, Lauren Shockey notes that French newcomer La Silhouette may not be cool, but it is pretty damn delicious, Sam Sifton has a rave for the pies at Giuseppina's, and Dave Cook files an Under on Cafe Kiev in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
BLOGS: The Hungry Roach is enamored with the crust at Rubirosa, Law and Food reports that The Spotted Pig remains as consistent as ever, Immaculate Infatuation thinks Ma Peche is hitting its stride, Feisty Foodie has a weird mac 'n' cheese burger at Burger Shoppe, Eat Big Apple encounters some questionable decision-making at Imperial No. 9, NY Journal sees some great potential in Tenpenny, and Serious Eats gives an A- to the burgers and a C+ to the rest at Social Eatz.