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Pete Wells Reviews Little Park, Others Take on the Scene at Polo Bar and Santina

This week the critics review a few of the city's hottest restaurants, plus a couple more under-the-radar places.

Polo Bar
Polo Bar
Daniel Krieger

Eater critic Robert Sietsema's review runs later today, but in the meantime, here's a roundup of what the city's other restaurant critics are talking about:

Pete Wells visits Little Park, the vegetable-heavy restaurant from Andrew Carmellini and team: "There are no second-class ingredients and almost no side dishes. The vegetables are as intriguing as the animals on plates, like steamed black bass with bracingly vinegared lentils or the intensely beefy hanger steak under broccoli whose thin stems had been judiciously charred." Two stars. [NYT]

Tejal Rao dines at the Ralph Lauren's very clubby Polo Bar: "Most of the best dishes at Polo Bar are no-brainers, like a pile of raw vegetables with ranch dressing, and a pale golden roast chicken with super smooth mashed potatoes that taste mostly of butter and salt. While these dishes are not exciting, they're not bad, either. Diners at my table particularly enjoyed the miniature ceramic pot of "ranch house" chili with a sweet fast-food-soft biscuit." One star. [Bloomberg]

Zachary Feldman reviews the Torrisi team's beachy Mediterranean hot spot, Santina: "The selection of small plates, priced from $9 to $15, probably best showcases the kitchen's talents: gussied-up winter squash carpaccio; crisp, greaseless fritto misto; a gently cured branzino crudo; and a bowl of Roman-style fried artichokes tossed in anchovy dressing with toasted hazelnuts, raisins, seedless red grapes, and snappy braised cardoons." [VV]

Michael Kaminer enjoys the "laid-back" scene at Tijuana Picnic: "The whole Mexican-Asian thing may sound odd, but Tijuana Picnic's duck empanadas ($8) — shredded meat, a touch of foie gras and scallions — combined into the most natural combination in the world. They reminded me of the Cantonese pu-pu platters I ate as a kid." Three stars. [NYDN]

Steve Cuozzo has some pleasant meals at The Peacock: "[Chef Jason] Hicks serves the best pheasant I've had in years. (Peacocks belong to the pheasant family, after all.) The breast, wrapped in gleaming skin, makes its entrance with a crisp-breaded, spherical, leg meat-and-sage "sausage." The bird gets the up-country treatment with cranberry compote, celery root, and maitake and trumpet mushrooms." Two stars. [NYP]

THE ELSEWHERE: Amelia Lester has a bad experience at the scene-y Happy Ending. Ligaya Mishan checks out Curry Hill newcomer Haldi. Gael Greene has a great meal at Korean barbecue hot spot Kang Ho Dong Baekjong. Sarah Zorn enjoys the diverse menu of Streets BK.

THE BLOGS: The Infatuation is impressed with the new, grown up Dirt Candy, the Food Doc deems Little Park an "oasis,"  NY Journal enjoys Mokbar in Chelsea Market, Chekmark Eats particularly likes the vegetable dishes at Chalk Point Kitchen, NYC Foodie stops by Xixa, Chopsticks + Marrow loves the Arepa Lady's patacon mixto,

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