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A Korean Restaurant Tour, Plus Stellar Meals at Semilla, and Why the Rainbow Room Is Worth It

A roundup of all the restaurant review this week.

Yesterday Ryan Sutton gave three stars to Cosme, Enrique Olvera's game-changing Mexican restaurant in the Flatiron. Now, here's a roundup of what the rest of the critics are talking about this week:

In lieu of a formal review, Pete Wells goes on a Korean tour of Queens. He maps out 12 restaurants, each with their own specialty. On the spicy pork stew at Geo Si Gi: "It's called kamja tang, sometimes described as potato stew, although a server insisted that a more accurate translation was 'very tender meat stew.' Very, very tender it is, barely hanging on to its shaft of backbone...The broth has a rounded sweetness and a many-layered depth that soaks into the fat noodles at the bottom of the pot." [NYT]

Tejal Rao is impressed by Semilla, Jose Ramirez-Ruiz's vegetable-focused tasting menu restaurant in Williamsburg: "Ramirez-Ruiz displays a neurotic level of attention to temperatures as well as flavors...if you don't waste any time cutting open the extremely hot poached beet, you'll understand why temperature can be vital. As the beet steam rushes out, it delivers its scent — raw sugar and wet earth — then warms your gullet going down in a way that is truly primal. It's just a hot taproot, I know, but with dabs of fermented ramp sauce, thick and rich as miso, and almost buttery sunflower seeds, it reminded me why I love chef counters: Nothing sits at the passe." Three stars. [Bloomberg]

Zachary Feldman visits the reborn Rainbow Room, to try out the one prix fixe meal offered to the public each week. He's impressed with chef Jonathan Wright's cooking: "Main courses deliver occasional fireworks, like Wright's lobster pot pie, a ramekin of oceanic beauty brimming with root vegetables, meltingly soft lobster meat, herbed cream sauce, and an eyebrow-raising amount of sliced black truffles underneath a glossy, brittle crust." [VV]

Steve Cuozzo has mixed feelings about the menu at Upland: "Among entrees (most $30 to $36), fillets of striped bass and branzino gave fine if uninventive accounts of themselves. A shellfish bonanza and rich tomato sauce made up for the absence of gochujang (pepper paste) in cioppino, while persimmon lightened the heft of porcelet fastened to crackling that truly crackled." Two stars. [NYP]

Christina Izzo isn't impressed by the al pastor at Empellon Al Pastor: "tortillas...pressed in-house daily-are thin and springy, with a delicate maize sweetness. Much of that subtlety is lost, however, in the joint's namesake taco, whose single corn round is overloaded with fatty pork shreds that, while sporting a nice char, are surprisingly tough, and pineapple batons that were, on one visit, downright soapy." Three stars. [TONY]

THE ELSEWHERE: Ligaya Mishan reviews Sky Cafe, an Indonesian restaurant in Elmhurst. Hannah Goldfield loves the food at La Savane, a pan-African restaurant in Harlem. Gael Greene lists her favorite new restaurants of 2014, which include Batard, Cosme, Dirty French, Bar Bolonat, and Gato.

THE BLOGS: The Infatuation team loves Tuome and Betony, Chekmark Eats is pleasantly surprised by Pagani, NY Journal is on board with the Breslin's prime rib feast, NYC Foodie eats at Little Park, The Pink Pig has brief notes on meals at Ocabanon, Dziupla, and more, Chopsticks + Marrow doubles up on Thai brunch at Sugar Club and Khao Kang, the Food Doc is not impressed by the service at Sushi Nakazawa, and Gastro Chic runs down a meal at Chefs Club.

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