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Pete Wells Is Underwhelmed by Altamarea's First French Restaurant, Vaucluse

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It's not a goose egg, but the review has some bite.

[The dining room at Vaucluse]
[The dining room at Vaucluse]
Nick Solares

And the award for lede of the year goes to: Pete Wells, for his review of Altamarea Group's latest restaurant, Vaucluse:

A critic could run out of new ways to express disappointment in Altamarea Group restaurants if Altamarea didn’t keep coming up with new ways to disappoint.

And the rest of the review is just as sharp. The critic finds that the menu from Michael White and Jared Gadbaw oscillates between inspired riffs on the classics and overwrought dishes that miss the mark. Wells enjoys the tournedos Rossini, the pâté of pork and duck, and the épaulettes.  Here's the critic on some of the underwhelming dishes:

The poulet rôti grand-mère is dull enough to make you wonder if Grandmother learned to roast chickens at a hotel school, although it comes with a profoundly appealing ballotine that’s something like a chicken-and-foie-gras meatball wrapped in skin.

The potato tart is a jumble of sliced fingerlings, lardons, bits of Camembert and truffles waiting for something to happen. Nothing is going to happen as long as they’re all loafing on a crackerlike crust that you could safely serve to a patient on a no-flavor diet.

If all you ask of a pork chop is for it to be round, pink and wet, the one at Vaucluse will meet your requirements.

The dessert menu is equally spotty, although Wells has some good things to say about the chocolate soufflé. Ultimate, the critic concludes: "It’s far from a bad restaurant. It’s just not, as my teachers used to say, using its full potential." One star.

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