Lame duck food critic
Sam Sifton awards one star to Upper East Side beer hall and Czech import Hospoda. He loves the flavors and the offerings but is not so keen on the service or the portion sizes:
The menu is filled with dishes that make absolute sense in a restaurant in the same building as the Consulate General of the Czech Republic...There is ham and horseradish and pickled beets, and smoked beef tongue with pickled onions, along with huge gleaming tankards of beer...Seared striped bass is also on the menu, with fennel, maitake mushrooms, almonds and a fragrant lemon sauce. So are rainbow trout with sorrel, and eggs poached within blankets of pasta.The kitchen exhibits talent, he writes, "Too bad, then, that the service cannot yet match the quality of the food, and that the food itself might be served at a dollhouse restaurant, or as passed appetizers at a consulate function. If there is a vision behind Hospoda, it is a clouded one." [NYT]
Everything is prepared delicately, stylishly, the big flavors made demure by featherweight sizes, emphasizing modern presentation over traditional ones. There are no tables groaning under the weight of pork loins and tubs of sauerkraut in the dining room.
Robert Sietsema calls Birreria a great restaurant masquerading as a beer garden "Though no one has ever been known to order one in a beer garden before, the salads are magnificent—big generous plates of scintillatingly fresh produce. Best is shredded kale with grapefruit in an anchovy vinaigrette ($13), so substantial it could be an entrée. The flagship of the dinner fleet is pork shoulder braised in beer and apricots, a putative bargain at $19, though it, too, comes unadorned, and there's little in the way of sides available." [VV]
Ligaya Mishan files an Under on gimmicky new Bed-Stuy restaurant Do or Dine: "The whole scene sounds too ironic, too hipster-ish, too Brooklyn. Instead, it is charming...There is nothing revelatory about the food. But it is good, suspiciously so, given that Mr. Warner and Mr. McNeese, who had waited tables at the Modern, trumpet their lack of professional cooking experience." [NYT]
Adam Platt awards one star each to newcomers Tremont in the West Village and Salinas in Chelsea. He says the former "isn’t your typically twee West Village restaurant after all." Of the latter, "Bollo’s time in the suburbs has taken some of the edge off his old style, but several of these classic dishes are worth the price of admission." [NYM]
Lauren Shockey loves the setting but not the food at West Village newcomer West Bank: "An austere setting can work if the kitchen's output requires every millisecond of your attention (à la Per Se). But that's not the case here. Although the food and exceptionally friendly service more than pass muster, the culinary creativity is, well, lacking." [VV]
THE ELSEWHERE: Gael Greene nitpicks the details and disparages the desserts but overall loves the revamp of Le Bernardin, Tables for Two deems West Village Mexican spot Empellon exceptional, and Jay Cheshes writes that Hospoda on the Upper East Side offers "a very good intro to the new ideas percolating" over in Prague.
THE BLOGS: Immaculate Infatuation loves Upstate Beer & Oyster Bar and does not love Soho Japanese spot Niko, the Food Doc approves of Tertulia and wishes Seamus Mullen continued success, Eat Big Apple is disappointed in Yuba and is worried about its future, and The Pink Pig dines early at Minetta Tavern and loves the food.