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Pete Wells Eats Dumplings, Other Critics Cover a Mixed Bag in Midtown, from Calle Dao to Urbo

A lot of critics dined in Midtown this week, and unearthed a couple pleasant surprises, along with a couple duds.

Daniel Krieger

Yesterday Ryan Sutton gave one star to Floyd Cardoz's new Tribeca restaurant, White Street. Now here's a roundup of what the rest of the critics are talking about this week:

Pete Wells happily works his way through the many varieties of dumpling at Dumpling Galaxy: "Her dumplings are stuffed to order, and [Helen] You fine-tunes them with the sensitivity of a natural cook who listens to her ingredients. Mixing shrimp with two varieties of celery, the more bitter and self-assured Chinese and the sweeter, shyer Western kind, and using both stalks and leaves, she builds exhilarating harmonies." One star. [NYT]

Zachary Feldman is totally impressed by the Cuban Chinese food at Calle Dao in Midtown: "When in doubt, go for goat: ground into thick patties topped with melted leeks and hoisin ketchup for a killer lunch burger, or served as a roasted neck at dinnertime, seasoned with coriander, fennel, and cumin over fried plantain tostones."

Tejal Rao visits the upscale portion of the Times Square restaurant megaplex, Urbo: "A few dishes also feel like they're still being workshopped, like the soft-boiled egg with smoked potatoes ($15). It's stunning when it arrives at the table, and there is deep flavor in the syrupy trotter broth. The egg is cooked just right, with a yolk that runs and a white that is just about holding itself together. But as you eat it, you realize you're spending a lot of time chasing egg and meat jelly about with a spoon." The restaurant is empty, the service spotty, and she gives it zero stars.

Stan Sagner reviews District Tap House, a Garment District bar with surprisingly refined food: "Start with a simple skewer of tangy goat cheese and Piquillo pepper croquettes ($8). A slick of Aleppo-pepper-infused honey on the plate clings to their panko crust and makes them even more irresistible. You might follow with a complex, but winning, serrano crostini ($8) that stacks the prized ham atop a sweet-salty mix of sautéed pineapple, Valdeón blue cheese and a final, gentle jolt of pickled jalapeno." Three stars.

Joshua David Stein heads to the Times Square Red Lobster, to see whether a new corporate chef and a menu overhaul has done the chain any good: "the Crispy Shrimp Lettuce Wraps let us reap the crap trap claptrap of soy-ginger marinade, a sauce that should be banned forever. These shrimps, drowned in the stuff after frying, were too-gooey food, sickly-sweet fooey-food, dude. A charitable eye could discern a hidden gesture of sliced jalapeno and crispy lettuce to cut the sweetness, but it was not enough to save anything." Nonetheless, deeming the more limited menu an improvement, he gives the restaurant two stars. [Observer]

Steve Cuozzo finds hits and misses on the menu at White Street: "A starburst of coriander, Thai chili and black pepper put a happy sting in hamachi tartare in Mutsu apple cider sauce one night. But Sunday, Cardoz was off, and so were the spices, leaving the sweetness unchecked." He gives it two stars.

THE ELSEWHERE: Shauna Lyon likes the dishes with Indian leanings best at White Street. Ligaya Mishan finds a great burger at the Mill Basin food truck Hard Times Sundaes. Gael Greene explores the over-the-top brunch buffet at the Rainbow Room.

THE BLOGS: Andrew Steinthal is sorely disappointed by Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Westchester restaurant, The Inn at Pound Ridge, The Pink Pig eats sandwiches at Empire Diner and Eisenberg's, Chopsticks + Marrow loves the pasta Danielle at Room 55, The Food Doc loves Dirty French despite himself, NY Journal is very impressed with M. Wells Steakhouse, NYC Foodie dines at the Red Cat, and Restaurant Girl particularly loves the pastas at Upland.

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