Pete Wells has been ping ponging back and forth between two East Village restaurants lately: Hawaiian newcomer Noreetuh and the cozy spot The Eddy. He hands out one star each to the two restaurants today.
At Noreetuh, Per Se vet Chung Chow shows a reverence for Spam:
Mr. Chow....goes out of his way to treat Hormel's arrestingly pink canned meat product as if it were an heirloom ingredient. Stuffed into supple agnolotti and accessorized with hon-shimeji mushrooms; semi-juicy, soy-cured spring almonds; and a mob of bonito flakes (waving their hands in the air like they just don't care), it could almost pass for mortadella.
The restaurant makes a good first impression, according to Pete (and Ryan Sutton), but "Noreetuh may have a trickier time converting new diners into regulars," says Wells. "At the moment, there's something a little cautious about the whole enterprise," but things seem to be moving in the right direction.
Over at The Eddy, Wells finds a restaurant that "that gets so many little details right that your main course can be a little shaky and you can still walk out happy." The critic isn't 100 percent sold on some of chef Brendan McHale's dishes like the burrata — which he says is better at Estela — "But other dishes were wonderful. There were unimprovable roasted potatoes with strips of rib-eye whose dry-aged intensity was amplified by the low-key funk of melted Brie."
Still, it's the restaurant's calculated vibe and gracious service that wins over Pete.
I thought about how extremely pleasant everybody is at the Eddy, starting with the bartenders, who look up and smile each time a new customer walks in, as if they lived in the opening credits of a sitcom. I remembered the drinks they made, which are as good as the ones at a dedicated cocktail bar. I recalled the compact well-priced wine list, and how I never picked a bottle that I didn't enjoy a little more than I'd expected.