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Pete Wells Pans Javelina; Other Critics Find Great Caribbean and Good Chinese in Queens

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A roundup of all the restaurant reviews this week.

Streetbird Rotisserie
Streetbird Rotisserie
Daniel Krieger

Yesterday, Ryan Sutton deemed Hometown the best barbecue spot in the city, and Robert Sietsema awarded three stars to West Village bistro Le Baratin. Now here's a roundup of what the rest of the critics were talking about this week:

Pete Wells pens a sly and scathing takedown of Tex-Mex hotness Javelina: "A premium queso called the Bob Armstrong does have some flavor: It tastes like ground beef, which in fact it contains, along with guacamole and chopped tomatoes. The menu said that another loaded queso, the Mag Mud, was supplemented with black beans. I didn't see them, so I probed the cheese with tortilla chips, digging way down to the bottom. Black beans shouldn't be easy to lose in a bowl of white cheese. Where were they? About five minutes later, a server placed a bowl of beans on the table." He gives it a zero-star rating of "fair." [NYT]

Zachary Feldman reviews Trini Gyul, a West Indian restaurant in Jamaica, Queens: "Trays hold court at the back of the shop, where the staff doles out West Indian produce like plantains, earthy stewed callaloo greens to go with hearty portions of chow mein, curried duck and shrimp, and jerk chicken ruddy with spice and relentless slow-burning heat. Pelau, a hearty rice dish made with shredded chicken and pigeon peas cooked down with coconut milk and piquant seasonings, possesses enough mystique to hush a group of excitable bros." [VV]

Michael Kaminer is mostly impressed by the Chinese takeout at Saw Shack in Queens. Though some dishes could be improved, "Saw Shack gets its groove back with pork chop in Peking sauce ($9.50). Six plump pieces of pristine meat are slathered in rich, rib-sticking gravy that lacks the motor-oil viscosity you usually get at corner takeout joints. The ideal accompaniment: Saw Shack's perfectly cooked onion rings ($1.95), which feel imported from another restaurant entirely." Three stars. [NYDN]

Steve Cuozzo pans the overpriced Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel: "'Baby' beets were barely embryonic. Petit filet mignon, a rare bargain at $29, came with limp frisee rather than 'asparagus-cherry tomato salad.' Cheddar cheese covered barely half of an otherwise fine burger 'royale,' while 'millefeuille de fromage' turned out to be an eensy grilled-cheese sandwich drowned in truffle oil." One star. [NYP]

Christina Izzo is disappointed by Marcus Samuelsson's new Streetbird Rotisserie: "No amount of dizzying design could distract you from the fact that the namesake dish—served as quarters ($5.50 for dark meat, $6 for white), half ($9.50) or a whole chicken ($15)—lacks sufficient crunch to match its admirably juicy, though timidly seasoned flesh...Or that the lo mein-like Sho' Nuff noodles ($9) are so epically gummy that you can't appreciate the acidic funk of the pickled mustard greens tangled in those strands." Two stars. [TONY]

THE ELSEWHERE: Hannah Goldfield visits the diverse, bustling, Astoria Seafood. Ligaya Mishan eats Sri Lankan at Kottu House. Gael Greene is disappointed by many of the dishes at the new August on the Upper East Side. Sarah Zorn likes the cocktails and the fancy toasts at Grand Army.

THE BLOGS: The Infatuation pans Hunt and Fish Club, Chekmark Eats deems Arlington Club a good place for special occasions, Chopsticks + Marrow feasts on fried seafood at Bigelow's Seafood, Restaurant Girl checks out the Ichicoro pop-up at Ramen Lab, the Food Doc tries out Mission Cantina's new Mexican brunch.

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