Pete Wells travels to San Francisco to file on Tosca Cafe, the new restaurant from NYC duo Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield. Wells admires how the team renovated and essentially preserved a Bay Area institution. He also likes the food from Bloomfield and chef de cuisine Josh Even: "Our server insisted that we swipe the potatoes through the chicken's wonderfully old-school sauce of Marsala and cream. 'That's where the money is,' she said. Actually, I liked it better than money. I also liked that Ms. Bloomfield and Mr. Even's menu doesn't reach for a 1919 Italian-American version of retro-authenticity. Their food is what you want to eat today, which means Tosca Cafe might be around tomorrow." [NYT]
Steve Cuozzo is impressed by Rotisserie Georgette: "Roast half-chicken, a $24 bargain bird, made no impression on my first visit. A few weeks later, it drifted in on a fragrant Provençal breeze of marjoram, rosemary, thyme and oregano, floated up to heaven with wine, mushroom and bacon sauce. It's a worthy little sister to mushroom-stuffed 'poule de luxe' for two ($72) that gives The NoMad's exalted $79 bird a run for its precious feathers. The voluptuous specimen 'must involve breast augmentation,' my wife giggled. "[NYP]
Joshua David Stein gives four stars out of five to Danny Bowien's Mission Cantina: "Mr. Bowien has said he was inspired to recreate the flavors he experienced on a trip to Mexico City, but the poet-chef uses Mexican cuisine as an open-ended prompt. How else to explain the peanuts that, coupled with tart pickled tomatoes, elevate the beef tongue taco from quasi-food dare to a tonguing revelation? How else to account for the union of braised octopus and chicken wing in a singular mind-blowing taco?" [The Observer]
Stan Sagner gives four stars out of five to M. Wells Steakhouse: "Ambitious in concept, but not quite ready for prime time, the 'Stack of Pork Chops' ($28) suggests a clever riff on pancakes as bone-in chops are sliced magazine thin then piled high and separated only by melting coins of anchovy butter. The plate is a show-stopper, and the skill to slice the meat impressive, but the skinny cutlets wither on the flame and not even the copious saturated fat could resuscitate their leathery texture." [NYDN]
[Contra by Bess Adler]
Daniel S. Meyer gives just two stars (out of five) to Lower East Side tasting menu restaurant Contra: "For now, Contra is more experimental kitchen than well-oiled machine. And in a town with plenty of stellar tasting menus available for reasonable asking prices, it will have to hit a steadier stride to endure beyond its newcomer buzz." [TONY]
[The Writing Room by Krieger]
THE ELSEWHERE: Gael Greene digs the menu at The Writing Room in the old Elaine's space, Jeff Gordinier is pleasantly surprised by the food at McSorley's, Amelia Lester of Tables for Two samples some exciting dishes at Khe-Yo, and Restaurant Girl has a wonderful meal at New York Sushi Ko.
[Mission Cantina by Krieger]
BLOGS: Immaculate Infatuation's Andrew Steinthal gives a 6.8 rating to Mission Cantina, Max Falkowitz thinks that Danny Bowien's newest is "decent for the neighborhood," Eat Big Apple has a great meal at Rotisserie Georgette, Zachary Feldman gives a thumbs up to Luksus in Greenpoint, NYC Foodie tries a few dishes at Decibel in the East Village, Joe DiStefano loves the beef Wellington at M. Wells Dinette, Chekmark Eats is not wowed by the barbecue at Morgan's on her visit, The Food Doc is impressed by the Chinese food at Han Dynasty, and NY Journal has a very good meal at Harlem newcomer Mountain Bird.