Fifteen years after its last review, a three spot from Ruth Reichl, Sam Sifton reinstates Gotham Bar & Grill's three star status. It was first awarded three stars in 1985, one year after it opened:
Take as an example the restaurant’s seafood salad, a dish that Bryan Miller raved about in The New York Times in 1985, when he awarded the restaurant three stars; that Molly O’Neill loved in a 1993 review that gave the same rating; that Ruth Reichl called Mr. Portale’s signature dish in the newspaper’s most recent previous review of the restaurant, in 1996, which also awarded three stars...It still tastes terrific, though, with every flavor in balance. It still offers excitement...The entrees are even better, the service is fine if not perfect, the place needs new paint in some places, and the wine list has some serious weaknesses. And the dessert? "It is a crazy-quilt finish to a meal that deserves three cheers." [NYT]
...But Mr. Portale does have plenty of new material to showcase. On the current menu, there is an appetizer of cold-smoked Tasmanian sea trout....It is unreasonably good. There is another of spring-pea ravioli, luxurious and sweet, with fava beans, delicate pea tendrils and some Parmesan, in a bacon broth of real weight and seriousness — a Greenmarket treat enlivened by a trip to the smokehouse.
Ryan Sutton notes that there's a lot of room for improvement at Alex Stupak's Empellon: "I’m happy to report that a few of Stupak’s sopes, ceviches and tacos are very good. Other items require fixing...Tequila-cured salmon with sangrita evokes the fishiness of an old tackle box and the generic flavors of supermarket salsa. Stupak, a chef who’s “only slightly less intense than a Marine,” an Empellon staffer told me, shouldn’t be letting some of this food leave the kitchen." [Bloomberg]
Steve Cuozzo awards two and a half stars to La Silhoutte, which he thinks represents the resiliency of French dining: "...magic unspools nightly. The owners' warmth infects the house, and many customers seem to know the staff...the main draw is executive chef David Malbequi, who commands the increasingly fluid boundary between updated French and modern-American." [NYP]
Lauren Shockey on West Village newcomer Spasso: "The food, while not mind-blowing, will happily feed you, and the space offers a quaint, unpretentious setting—rare in today’s West Village. Welcome to your secret neighborhood spot that everyone now knows about." [VV]
Adam Platt awards one star each to dreary Midtown newcomer Desmond's and modernist Upper West Sider Graffit. The former restaurant's food is "decent" while at the latter "there were muddy oxtail ravioli wrapped in floppy wonton skins (they tasted better than they looked)...seared duck breast (very good but very brown), and a lamb creation...that was so transcendently ugly that I had to snap a picture of it." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Restaurant Girl gives Kyo-Ya 3 Stars and says it's as close as you'll get to Japan without leaving the island of Manhattan, Metromix thinks Mr. Robata goes a little too far with its inventive flourishes, Oliver Strand writes that Thelewala serves Indian street food at its brightest and best, Ligaya Mishan finally finds a souvlaki skewer she likes at food truck gone brick and mortar Souvlaki GR, Time Out NY checks out a bunch of new Queens restaurants, and Robert Sietsema discovers Man'ouChe in Bay Ridge, which "offers the city’s most intimate look at today’s Lebanese vernacular cuisine."
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives The Dutch's late night menu an A-, Immaculate Infatuation really likes the Cambodian sandwiches at Num Pang, Eating in Translation enjoys the Bee Sting pie at Roberta's, Eat Big Apple was impressed with Untitled and gives the spot 3 1/2 apples, Life with Food and Drink awards DB Bistro Moderne 4 Offset Spatulas and specifically loves the desserts, NY Journal files on Boulud Sud and thinks it may be the best fine dining deal in town, Feisty Foodie enjoys burgers and donuts at Brindle Room, and A Tiger in the Kitchen experiences some hits and some misses at Brushstroke.