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Pete Wells Awards Two Stars to Midtown's Cafe China

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For his review this week, Pete Wells files on Cafe China, the new Sichuan restaurant from first time restaurateurs Xian Zhang and Yiming Wang. The dining room has an aesthetic charm that you don't find in many Midtown Chinese restaurants, and the food also packs a big punch:

Pickle and fish stew has a burn that stops short of eye-watering, with round slices of preserved red chile bobbing in the broth like life preservers around a shipwreck. But it also has a sharp tang of pickled mustard greens that changes the formula to something new.

Cumin leads the charge in other dishes, not just the well-known cumin lamb, which is superb and velvety here, but also in a dish called baby black lamb, which gains depth from fermented tofu and sweetness from red bell peppers.

Wells mentions the occasionally "hazy service and puzzling waits for cold appetizers," but deems the quality of the food and the spirit of the restaurant worthy of two stars. [NYT]

Gael Greene has a fantastic meal on her first visit to The Nomad, but her second meal does not go so well. The food takes forever to hit the table, a companion's drink isn't mixed to her taste, and she doesn't like the steak tartare, the salmon rillettes, or the sweetbread spring rolls. She concludes: "Will you want to go to NoMad? Yes, of course. How long can you resist the madding crowd? It’s still the buzz after all. I’ll give them time to perfect their rhythm." [Insatiable Critic]

The Post's Steve Cuozzo awards two stars to splashy Midtown newcomer Brasserie Puskin: "...the menu’s more refined than at any Russian place I’ve been in New York — about time in a city where it took Mr. Prokhorov to bring the Nets to Brooklyn. For all its giddy opulence and goofy pageantry (think coat-check numbers in golden lockets), Brasserie Pushkin is a very good restaurant that will be better if it rethinks its pricing and banishes certain old ways." [NYP]

Bloomberg's Ryan Sutton finds a lot of duds at Steve Hanson's newest acquisition, Strip House. After noting upsells from the server, and bland dishes coming from the kitchen, the critic notes: "The casual, careless atmosphere of American steakhouses doesn’t fly in an era of food inflation where beef, once an affordable indulgence, is now a $50 luxury." Sutton gives Strip House just one star. [Bloomberg]

New York critic Adam Platt thinks Matthew Lightner's Atera is worthy of four stars: "Lightner isn’t necessarily concerned with making his food delicious in the standard, accessible ways. He wants to stimulate, to educate, and to entertain, and in terms of range, technique, and quirky inventiveness, he does as good a job of this as any chef in New York since the glory days of the great molecular gastronomist Wylie Dufresne." [NYM]

Jay Cheshes is won over by chef Michael Toscano's food and the overall vibe at Gabe Stulman's Perla: "For chefs who have done well running other people’s restaurants, the move into the spotlight doesn’t always go this smoothly (see Jonathan Benno at Lincoln). But Toscano seems to have wasted no time getting up to speed here. With his bold, playful food, and Stulman’s trademark bonhomie, Perla has all the trappings of a classic in the making." Cheshes deems the restaurant worthy of four stars. [TONY]

THE ELSEWHERE: Robert Sietsma finds excellent southern Chinese fare at Genting Palace in Ozone Park, Betsy Andrews loves the signature meat at the recently-revived David's Brisket House in Bed-Stuy, and Tables for Two digs the food and the attitude of Gowanus seafood shack Littleneck.

THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives an A minus to Gabe Stulman's Perla, New York Journal likes most of the food and the production value at The Nomad, the guys from Immaculate Infatuation are not impressed by Don Antonio in Midtown, Checkmark Eats loves basically everything at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, Eat Big Apple digs the yakitori at Soba Totto, and Feisty Foodie samples the burger at Five Leaves.
· All Coverage of Week in Reviews [~ENY~]

Perla

24 Minetta Lane, New York, Ny 10012 212 933 1824 Visit Website

Littleneck

288 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (718) 522-1921 Visit Website

NoMad Restaurant

1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001 212 796 1500

atera

77 Worth Street, Manhattan, NY 10013 (212) 226-1444 Visit Website

Cafe China

13 East 37th Street, New York, NY

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