Pete Wells likes the robust flavors of Michael Psilakis's Greek fare at MP Taverna in Astoria. Here's his take on the chef's menu:
MP Taverna offers a second-generation, melting-pot vision of an America where Greek flavors have been woven into the fabric of American cooking so thoroughly that they're taken for granted. If yogurt companies can do it, why not chefs?Some dishes don't work and the service can be bumpy, but Wells thinks the restaurant deserves one star overall.
In this America, dense white cubes of feta pickled in wood barrels are widely recognized as an appetizer that can hold its own with burrata. Tender gigantes are a natural addition to mussels neatly arranged in a skillet. And cooks who rely on the salty, porky charms of sausage are apt to round out a dish with caul-wrapped sheftalia, which is a favorite in Cyprus, or loukaniko, made at MP Taverna with leeks and orange peel.
The critic also comments on Psilakis's Upper West Side fish restaurant, FishTag, which got the goose egg from Sam Sifton a few years back. He has some great food on one visit, and some disappointing food on another. Wells concludes: "I wouldn't travel more than a block or two for a meal like that. But I'd go back to Astoria." [NYT]
Ms. Gael Greene visits Flat Top in Morningside Heights and Jin Ramen in Harlem. On the former: "Shio (chicken) ramen and the miso version (with chicken stock, pork and chicken sausage) paled next to my sensational spicy tonkotsu soup made with fortified pork bone stock...I'm not an expert on ramen. I loved it at Ippudo and almost fainted with joy in a Tokyo fast food ramen joint. I sprinkled hot pepper so quickly on this one, I didn't really have a chance to judge the chef's delivery. In the end, it was thrilling." [Insatiable]
Although he's shocked by the prices, Adam Richman loves the seafood plates and cocktails at ZZ's Clam Bar: "Sardine fillets are gorgeous—soft, fresh, and mild, the tenderloin of the sea. Each slice of seared golden-eye snapper is topped with a single Tristar strawberry. The searing is so delicate you might not know it's there. When I tell the woman who rushed down to join me that the snapper seems uninspired, she picks up a knife and smears the strawberry across each slice, as though it's jam. Fish and fruit: It's what's for dinner." [GQ]
Michael Kaminer gives three stars to Bobby Hellen's new restaurant, The Bar Room: "Tender, simply seasoned skirt steak ($23) not only comes medium-well as ordered, but retains juice and texture. It's a pleasure after jerky-like specimens we usually endure. A fat roasted onion and meaty trumpet mushroom are elegant, earthy sides. French fries ($6) suffer from oversalting, but they're hand-cut, crunchy outside and pillowy inside." [NYDN]
Daniel S. Meyer gives two stars (out of a possible five) to Costata: "The tomahawk rib for two ($118)—aged nearly 60 days—is basted with melted dry-aged beef trim, and blasted in a 1,900-degree broiler to achieve an exemplary charred, salty crust. The marbled flesh has an appropriately lingering funk, and enough fatty drippings in the bottom of its regal silver dish to render any accompanying sauces irrelevant." [TONY]
The Robs give three Underground Gourmet stars to Café Nadery on West Eighth Street, and two U.G. stars to El Aripo Café on the Lower East Side. On the former: "There is a chicken-salad sandwich dressed in cucumber yogurt that tastes just vaguely unfamiliar, and a bean, herb, and noodle soup, ash-e reshteh, that tastes utterly so. The contents of the bowl are ribollita-thick and deep green, an Über-vegetal mush of spinach, dill, cilantro, parsley, and green onion mingled with soft strands of pasta, chickpeas, and kidney beans."
THE ELSEWHERE: Ligaya Mishan is intrigued by the Chinese Indian cuisine at Spicy Symphony in Kips Bay, Hannah Goldfield of Tables for Two checks out the recent restaurant additions to Chelsea Market, and Scarlet Lindeman samples the goods at Rippers on Rockaway Beach.
[Per Se by Daniel Krieger]
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats editor Max Falkowitz recommends affordable Southern newcomer Marietta in Clinton Hill, Andrew Steinthal of Immaculate Infatuation gives an 8.1 rating to The Musket Room, the Pink Pig loves the ribs and the chicken sandwich at Fritzl's Lunch Box in Bushwick, NYC Foodie gives a thumbs up to Golden Sand Seafood, Eat Big Apple has a mind-blowing meal at Betony, Chekmark Eats enjoys the straightforward comfort food at Ditch Plains, Joe DiStefano tries the "secret" foie gras ice cream at Oddfellows Ice Cream Co., and NY Journal files a detailed recap of a recent meal at Per Se.