New York Times critic Pete Wells is impressed by the ambitious Mexican fare at Alex Stupak's Empellon Cocina. He awards the restaurant two stars:
I couldn’t quite believe how much a spackle of bittersweet mole poblano paste had to offer roasted carrots, or what a lovely job yogurt did of bringing them together. I admired the tense balance of chile heat in a tartare of Wagyu skirt steak that I spooned into a warm flour tortilla for a do-it-yourself taco. And I was thrilled to follow the smoky, throaty call of mezcal as it wove its way through cured ocean trout and through any number of cocktails...And there are a few misfires, like a lobster queso fundido that's too gooey, and Wells doesn't see the point of the shareable tapas format. But most of the dishes work, and at times Stupak's cooking "resembles the food of Mexico the way a dream resembles life." [NYT]
Watching Mr. Stupak try to pull all this off gives you the giddy feeling you get watching great actors improvise. The adrenaline charge of seeing pure inspiration powers you past the stammers and the stops.
Adam Platt awards two stars to Perla, Gabe Stulman's Italian restaurant: "If you’re wise, you’ll save your calories for the secondi items, like the plump fillet of red snapper in a subtle tomato brodetto, or the monkfish, which the kitchen garnishes with a black-truffle vinaigrette. I’ve never been a fan of that old rustico standby, roasted rabbit...but the sweetly crisped roast duck is a thing of beauty, and so is the chicken cacciatore for two..." [NYM]
Gael Greene is pleased with the food and overall experience at Clyde Frazier's Wine and Dine. It's a big time theme restaurant, but consulting chef David Waltuck is staying on top of things: "This Disneyland for hoop fans and Clydaniacs is not just sexy and funnish (as one of my editors noted – of course, I was shocked by her usage). You can also eat well. Most of what I tasted in two visits was good or very good." [Insatiable Critic]
Ryan Sutton also files on Empellon Cocina this week: "The calamari is mind-numbingly good. The tender spirals of white squid are the correct counterpoint to black mole sauce and seriously smoky chorizo mayonnaise. That’s the fun part. Stupak’s food is only complicated until you start eating, at which point it becomes delicious." He deems the restaurant worthy of three stars. [Bloomberg]
Jay Cheshes gives three stars to Peter Hoffman's Back Forty West: "The globe-trotting bill of fare is not nearly as disjointed as you’d expect it to be, with dishes connected across cultures through seasonal links...At first blush, Back Forty West may look like many of the locavore spots proliferating around town these days. But Hoffman—who works the dining room as an affable host—is a dynamic reminder of where it all began." [TONY]
THE ELSWHERE: Oliver Strand loves the drinks and David Malbequi's fish dishes at Prima, Tables for Two approves of Simpson Wong's locavore Asian fare at Wong in the West Village, Robert Sietsema finds some intriguing regional Indian dishes at Midtown newcomer Benares, and Ligaya Mishan samples the sweets and sandwiches at Socarrat spinoff La Churreria.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives an A minus to Daniel Humm's food at The Nomad, New York Journal digs the pastas and the wine list at Corsino, Immaculate Infatuation think that The General Greene is a solid standby (they also visited Atera), Chekmark Eats enjoys the food and the neighborhood vibe at Jack's Wife Freda, The Food Doc has a great meal at The Nomad, Eat Big Apple samples some very good tapas at Boqueria Soho, Goodies First is not blown away by Francesca, and Feisty Foodie thinks that the food at Wahoo's Fish Tacos is okay for the price.
· All Coverage of Week in Reviews [~ENY~]