Pete Wells writes that the waits and uncomfortable seating are worth it for the exquisite Westernized Chinese fare at Red Farm, the consistently packed little restaurant from Ed Schoenfeld, Jeffrey Chodorow, and chef Joe Ng. He awards it two stars noting that "At RedFarm, the food goes to 11":
The rib steak, marinated for a night in shredded papaya, ginger and soy sauce, is the last thing I’d expected to find in a Chinese restaurant: a great steak. A few more pieces of beef like this around town, and soon baked potatoes and cheesecake will be the only reasons for steakhouses to continue to exist.There is a sour note. Wells writes that quality at Ng's other restaurant, Chinatown Brasserie is suffering, and "At the moment, though, there is just one RedFarm, and Mr. Ng and Mr. Schoenfeld are focusing all their energy on it." [NYT]
..It’s hard to fault that approach when you’re crunching on one piece of crispy beef after another, lured in by the black vinegar and Grand Marnier glazing a deep-fried exterior. Or dipping a pastrami egg roll into mustard, and ingesting an entire century of sodium-drenched Lower East Side culinary history.
The Cuozz encounters a few duds but mostly loves what's going on (on the plate at least) at the new Acme: "The old Acme lasted 20 years. The new one could fall apart in 20 minutes. But right now, its bright way with “seasonal” is just the thing for a winter that’s felt almost like spring." [NYP]
Meanwhile, Jay Cheshes gives the new Acme four stars: "His menu delivers an easy introduction to the avant-garde cuisine of Northern Europe, unpretentious and moderately priced. His food is undeniably creative, but not so cerebral you can’t sit back and enjoy it...he is showcasing the sorts of intense, earthy flavors that are hallmarks of New Nordic cooking." [TONY]
Ryan Sutton encounters (sometimes) impressive food and terrible service at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria: "Il Buco distinguishes itself from New York’s crowded field of homey Italian spots by occasionally serving food on par with very good two-star restaurants...If only dining at Il Buco weren’t so torturous." [Bloomberg]
Gael Greene is rocked by the food at Empellon Cocina: "Every morning I awake hoping the day will bring a discovery. A great new chef, a veteran suddenly reborn, at the very least a dish that will haunt me...I’m still vibrating from the fusillade of sensation as I hit the chill of First Avenue, already plotting my return." [IC]
THE ELSEWHERE: Pete Wells deems Pok Pok Wing finger lickin' good, Manhattan's Adeena Sussman awards two stars to La Promenade des Anglais, Tables for Two believes that Rouge et Blanc deserves more acclaim but likes how serene the place is, Robert Sietsema thinks that Mercado on Kent on the edges of Williamsburg would be a triumph if they stuck to small plates and tapas and got rid of the disappointing entrees, and Lauren Shockey loves the elevated take-out standards being served right now at Park Slope newcomer Talde.
THE BLOGS: Immaculate Infatuation are fans of Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria and agree with Pete Wells' Times review and they enjoy the foamtastic cuisine of Acme but have a run-in with the doorman, NY Journal mostly enjoys his meal at the newly touched up Dovetail on the Upper West Side, Feisty Foodie writes that the $26 black label burger just didn't do it for her at Minetta Tavern, Chekmarks eats raves over the Lobster Egg Foo Young at Wong in the West Village, NYC Foodie likes Empellon Cocina so much he dines there two nights in a row, and Eatery Row has some excellent buns and ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar.