This week, Pete Wells reviews Williamsburg's "vegetable forward" counter Semilla where he says chef José Ramírez-Ruiz and pastry chef Pamela Yung "are using the nature-preserve possibilities of the tasting menu so their customers can taste dishes that weren't concocted to please the marketplace." Case-in-point, Wells enjoys a cabbage sandwich, which he says might not survive on an a la carte menu.
Semilla had taken two cabbage leaves, then flattened and dried them until they were as crisp as a cracker. This was the bread. In between were a bundle of unusually delicious coleslaw and some grains of buckwheat groats....The flavors woke up old memories of the Polish and Ukrainian restaurants that are mostly gone from the East Village.
The ever-changing menu (which was strictly vegetarian when Robert Sietsema paid an early visit) uses meat and fish, but limitedly. Not everything hits it out of the park. "I wished a few dishes at Semilla had been swatted to the floor by the market's invisible hand," writes Wells, like a "plate that I've come to call 'too much cabbage with too many soybeans.'" Still, Wells is pleased with most of the vegetable offerings and (like everyone else) love's Yung's house-baked bread. The critic doles out two stars.