This week, Pete Wells awards two stars to five-year-old barbecue favorite Hill Country. The critic just loves those smoked meats:
The term “moist brisket” is the restaurant’s euphemism for the deckle and tip of the brisket, upholstered in fat that will slowly render and baste the meat during the 13 or 14 hours it spends in the smoker. Carved just before serving, the meat is juicy throughout, but the parts that really get me going are the blackened edges that give way to a mahogany-tinted quarter-inch or so of smoky borderland between crust and interior.Wells is also a fan of the sides, desserts, and overall vibe of the place. His conclusion: "Hill Country may not be the real thing. But it plays the part better than anybody else in town." [NYT]
The moist brisket, along with the beef and pork ribs that carry a similarly peppery, crunchy top layer, show Hill Country’s rotisserie barbecue pits at their finest.
Robert Sietsema digs the eclectic Asian cuisine served at Danny Bowien's Mission Chinese Food: "Mapo tofu ($12.50) arrives awash in more red chile oil than you've ever seen before. But Bowien has substituted house-fermented fava beans for the standard soybean paste and added braised pork shoulder, chunkier than the usual ground meat. The curd is whiter and lighter, too. Damn, it's good!" [VV]
Adam Platt awards one star each to Back Forty West and Reynards. On the latter: "There’s nothing groundbreaking about this kind of cooking, of course, and as dinner proceeds, the sense of raucous, neighborhood terroir that Brooklyn restaurants are so famous for slowly dissipates in the great, echoing dining hall." [NYM]
Gael Greene pays a visit to Alex Garcia's brand new restaurant A.G. Kitchen: "I know I’ll be back for the much too rich Manhattan Latin burger, even if it takes my arteries a month to recover from this one – a blissfully rare blend of sirloin, short rib, chuck and brisket stuffed with bacon, cheddar, guacamole and the chef’s secret sauce, a kind of remoulade." [Insatiable Critic]
Jay Cheshes awards three stars to La Vara, the new restaurant from Alex Raj and Eder Montero: "This place seems like it could be Raij and Montero’s most deeply personal project—reflecting their backgrounds more distinctly than the others. But when a restaurant requires a treatise to be fully understood, the experience suffers. If their cooking returns to its less cerebral roots, La Vara as a cross-cultural concept might actually work." [TONY]
THE ELSHEWERE: Tables For Two critic Nick Paumgarten finds an uneven menu and occasionally spotty service at La Promenade Des Anglais, Tejal Rao likes most of the Asian-influenced American fare at Forager's City Table, and Ligaya Mishan is not completely won over by Hot Kitchen in the East Village.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats takes an ice cream crawl through the West Village, the Immaculate Infatuation boys are impressed with UES newcomer The Penrose, Eat Big Apple checks out the lunch deal at Jean Georges, the Pink Pig thinks that the Burger Shop's signature dish is "pretty good," NYC Foodie samples some outstanding dishes at Annisa, Chekmark Eats loves the risotto at Perilla, and the Food Doc approves of the Midwestern-style pies at Nicoletta.
· All Coverage of Reviews on Eater [~ENY~]