This week, Pete Wells files on both locations of Peter Hoffman's Back Forty. The critic awards two stars to the new Back Forty West in Soho, which has a "confidence and sparkle that take it well beyond the routine farm-to-table tropes." But the original location appears to be suffering from neglect, and Wells gives it a zero star "fair" rating. The takeaway:
Over the last month or so, I’ve had a string of extremely pleasant meals at second-generation Back Forty West, and a succession of sloppy, careless ones at the place it was modeled after. It’s as if Back Forty has gone into a long, jealous sulk, like a family cat that responds to the arrival of a new baby by hiding under the couch and scratching at anybody who gets too close.Wells recommends the squid preparations, the vegetable dishes, and all of the smoked meats at Back Forty West. In Alphabet City, he notes that many of the dishes are too salty and some of the plates have sloppy presentations. He warns that the original Back Forty is a "cautionary tale, proving that simplicity isn’t so simple, and that everyday food needs to be handled with care, every day." [NYT]
There are a few winning dishes on the menu at Brasserie Pushkin, but Ryan Sutton also finds a lot of pricey misfires: "Veal blintzes taste like a tuna fish sandwich ($19) that’s been microwaved. Just as bad are the pirozhki, filled with a meaty crumble as tasty as a $1 McDonald’s hamburger. And the signature pojarasky cutlet has all the flavor and texture of a chicken McNugget. It’s $35." He gives the restaurant just one star. [Bloomberg]
Tejal Rao loves David Malbequi's seafood dishes at Prima: "The tiny bay scallops are an elegant kind of sweet and sour, served on a half shell with Orleans mustard and a kumquat dressing ($3). A ceviche of mackerel ($8) is cubed roughly and seasoned precisely with lemon, olive oil, and chives, presented in a bowl set over crushed ice. The fish becomes brighter and colder as you work your way in; it's lovely." [VV]
Gael Greene has a fantastic meal at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria. On the short rib: "Yes, it is remarkable, unimaginably tender, fatty, of course, the celery, horseradish and bright green olives balancing the richness with salt and bitter, plus a scattering of walnuts for no reason at all...No one whose food I’ve ever tasted in Italy or anywhere else could dream up this animal. It is Chef Justin Smillie’s Demoiselles d’Avignon." [Insatiable Critic]
Adam Platt drops a big fat goose egg on pricey London import Hakkasan: "My $59 braised truffled-noodle dish turned out to be a wan, soggy mess of scallops and noodles topped with what appeared to be bits of crunchy Chinese black truffles poured from a can. The $15 Hakka steamed noodles (tossed with mushrooms and chives) were a gourmet event by comparison..." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Robert Sietsema declares that Sao Mai "might be the best Vietnamese restaurant in town," Tables for Two is impressed with the sophisticated fare at Gwynnett Street in Williamsburg, and Ligaya Mishan is not in love with Al Di La spinoff Bar Corvo.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives a solid A to Neta in the Village, Gotham Girl is enamored with the food and vibe at Perla, Gasto Chic enjoys the food but not the attitude at Back Forty West, the Immaculate Infatuation dudes order a few can't-miss dishes at Perilla, Eat Big Apple is won over by Isa, Chekmark Eats samples the goods at No. 7 Sub in the Ace Hotel, NY Journal files a report on the recent lamb dinner at Roberta's, and the Food Doc finds that Del Posto offers a great fine dining experience.
· All Coverage of Week in Reviews [~ENY~]