This week, Pete Wells files on La Mar Cebicheria, the splashy new Flatiron restaurant from South American celebrity chef Gaston Acurio. The critic likes a few of the dishes, but he finds spacey service and an overall lack of focus at the restaurant, in general:
La Mar is a sometimes exciting, often disappointing demonstration of the ways in which a global restaurant chain opening an outpost in New York faces more complex challenges than a retailer planting a new Abercrombie & Fitch in SoHo. When you reproduce a menu from afar without testing it on the locals, or bet on a style of cuisine without scoping the competition, or hire servers who aren’t versed in the care and feeding of the natives, the city’s response can be cold and lingering, or brutal and swift.Wells asserts that if you order the right drinks, and the right appetizers, "you can catch some bright glints of what that might have tasted like." It gets a zero star "satisfactory" grade from the Wellsmeister. [NYT]
Although he quibbles about the wait, the bar-like dining room, and the lack of dessert options, Steve Cuozzo is very impressed with Talde in Park Slope, awarding it two and a half stars. The food is the real reason to come here: "with whiffs of David Chang, Zak Pelaccio and Joe Ng, it’s an electrifying whirl through Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Vietnamese and Malaysian flavor constellations, executed with rare, equal respect for each cuisine." [NYP]
Ryan Sutton finds some brilliant entrees, but also a lot of duds on the menu at pricey Korean newcomer Jung Sik. His takeaway: "With hit-or-miss food, the high prices and set menus will keep diners away, regardless of income." Still, Sutton awards the restaurant two stars. [Bloomberg]
Adam Platt gives two stars each to Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria in Noho and Isa in Williamsburg. The critic finds some dishes that don't work at the former but notes that the "salt-roasted branzino is a minor work of art," and he writes that at Isa the "duck leg alone was almost worth the trek across the river." [NYM]
Departing Voice critic Lauren Shockey encounters some hits and misses at hot new Noho Nordic restaurant Acme. On the things that did't work: "Salt-roasted beet salad ($12) drowned in vinegar and was indistinguishable from any other version I've had before. And I struggled with the 'chicken and eggs' ($20), mostly because I can't get down with the silky texture of skinless, low-temperature-cooked chicken." [Village Voice]
Gael Greene had an exciting meal at King right before chef Francis Derby left: "Where I often find molecular cuisine annoying, I’m intrigued, and then impressed with chef Francis Derby’s tricks here. Slightly greasy tater tots with béarnaise are irresistible. His saffron’d mussels and clams are actually thrilling." [Insatiable Critic]
THE ELSEWHERE: Betsy Andrews is charmed by all-day restaurant Rucola in Boerum Hill, Robert Sietsema is impressed with the barbecue at John Brown Smokehouse (especially their lamb sauce), Tables for Two likes the inventive Asian-American fare at Talde, and Ligaya Mishan checks out inexpensive Clinton Hill taqueria Cochinita and finds that they're serving some awesome cochinita pibil.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives Danny Meyer's North End Grill an A minus, New York Journal samples the tropical drinks and agreeable "beach-resort food" at Lani Kai, Chekmark Eats checks out the breakfast options at Maialino, the guys from Immaculate Infatuation love the fried chicken at Bobwhite Counter and think it's a great addition to the neighborhood, Eat Big Apple finds reasonably priced fresh oysters and a decent lobster roll at Fish, and the Feisty Foodie likes the pies but not the prices at pizzeria newcomer Capizzi.