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Jams Is the Biggest Critical Flop of 2015

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Here's a roundup of this week's new restaurant reviews — including two pans of Jonathan Waxman's Midtown restaurant Jams.

[Jams in Midtown]
[Jams in Midtown]
Daniel Krieger

Adam Platt is a fan of Laurent Tourondel's hearty Italian-influenced American fare at L'Amico on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 30th Street. Platt gives the restaurant two stars. But the critic is not so kind to Jonathan Waxman's Jams in Midtown: "[O]one gets the sinking feeling that the venerable and talented Waxman, who runs the fine West Village restaurant Barbuto, has signed his name to this production, then wandered off to tend to his other ventures. My order of salmon-and-crème-fraîche-topped Jams Pancakes looked like a bedraggled, waxen reproduction of this famous dish, and my swordfish entrée would have worked better if the long beans accompanying it weren’t cold." Zero stars.

[The pancakes at Jams. By Krieger]

Pete Wells also slams Jonathan Waxman's latest restaurant this week: "The ingredients, which do a lot of the work at Barbuto, sometimes seem unwilling to lend a hand at Jams. The cooked fresh tuna tossed with aioli and piled on a bun (a sandwich sold, misleadingly, as pan bagnat) had almost no presence. A raw fluke appetizer with cubes of flavorless, brown-spotted avocado tasted like nothing except salt." Goose egg. Last month, Eater critic Robert Sietsema also gave a zero star rating to Waxman's latest.

It's not perfect, but Gael Greene likes many of the dishes at Monte Carlo in the old Ciano space on East 78th Street: "I’d suggest the house not serve moules marinières when the mussels are tight and tasteless, though the bouffant bouquet of very good fries almost makes up for it. A chef friend and I are excited to see calf’s liver on the menu. I’d prefer it sliced thicker, but tonight’s is rare, as requested, delivered with caramelized onions in raspberry vinegar sauce (very Nouvelle cuisine), with fine mashed potatoes alongside."

[Vaucluse by Nick Solares]

Tejal Rao finds that Michael White's new French restaurant Vaucluse can be "infuriatingly inconsistent." The critic writes: "While the leeks vinaigrette with toasted almonds were brilliant, tender, and bright, the poached egg with red wine jus and lardons involved a thick slice of undercooked delicata squash. One night the skin on the roast chicken was soft and flabby, while the trout with lemon and capers was essentially perfect. The skin on the latter was evenly browned, speckled with tiny pieces of bread crisped in butter." One star.

TONY's Christina Izzo checks out Eureka, the new tasting counter from teen chef Flynn McGarry: "He doesn’t shy away from his youth—an amuse-bouche of foie gras torchon with quince on house-baked peanut "Ritz" crackers plays on PB&J, and a crusty slab of bread saturated in Gruyère fat echoes grilled cheese—and his loveliest offerings show shrewd judgment: McGarry ages a beet for three weeks to draw its sugars to the hull, grills the bulb over embers to a caramelized chew and dresses it with its own greens and a bloody beet-juice bordelaise. It’s a brilliant rendition of the root." Three stars out of five.

Ligaya Mishan loves many of the dishes at Haitian newcomer Grandchamps, in Bed-Stuy: "Ragged rounds of unripe plantains are fried, flattened and fried again to make crispy banan peze, whose pique comes from a dunk, between bouts of frying, in Tabasco. Rice is cooked in liquid left over from boiling dried djon-djon mushrooms and emerges almost ashy in color, its loamy flavor like a conflagration of balsamic vinegar, soy and truffles."

[Photo: Daniel Krieger]

Amelia Lester of Tables for Two enjoys most of what she tries at Bruno Pizza in the East Village: "The pies are pliable and toothsome, not bubbly and crisp, and sometimes, as with the abundantly sauced pepperoni pizza, droop under the weight of all those good intentions, and the house-made ranch dressing. Mostly, they are very tasty and a tiny bit confusing, like the one with market greens, a tangle of spiky leaves, said to also come with carrot-top pesto and bottarga, though you’d never know it, aside from a pleasantly fishy funk."

— After five years in business, Zachary Feldman finds that Sara Jenkins's Porsena is still getting the job done: "On a recent evening, the massive shells called lumaconi arrived in a jumble with Tuscan kale, garlicky pork sausage, and toothsome cranberry beans. By the next night Jenkins had ditched the legumes and ground meat, instead smothering the hefty noodles in earthy kale pesto studded with prosciutto shavings. A glug of vibrant olio nuovo — literally 'new oil,' a fragrant, unfiltered first-press olive oil — lent the dish a verdant sheen and a grassy finish."

Steve Cuozzo is a fan of the re-born Mountain Bird in Harlem. It's a meaty restaurant, but the critic recommends ordering some of the vegetables too: "Certain meat-free items listed as hors d’oeuvres are rich enough in fiber to make them filling enough for a main course. Sublime quinoa salad, all of $9, is a true vegan pleasure. (Yup, vegan at Mountain Bird!) It’s a visually arresting circle within a circle: quinoa compressed into a cake with sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and ground cashew nuts, enveloped by a forest of deep green kale."

The Blogs: The Infatuation gives an 8.6 rating to Al Di La in Park Slope, Joe DiStefano discovers delicious boureks at Turkiyem Market in Sunnyside, Goodies First checks out Lupulo and Avant Garden, and Sara Ventiera samples the corn cakes at Arepa Factory.


1414 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY

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