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Pete Wells Hits the Bar, Plus Reviews for Timna, Ganso Yaki, and Babu Ji

Pete Wells went to a million bars for this week's review.

Daniel Krieger

This week, Robert Sietsema gives two stars to Bono Trattoria on the corner of Broadway and West 151st St., and Ryan Sutton awards three stars to Japanese izakaya Tori Shin. Here's a roundup of what the rest of the critics are saying:

Pete Wells shines a light on the "mini-movement of New York chefs who are pouring their kitchen talents into bars instead of, or in addition to, traditional restaurants." The critic's roundup includes notes on El Cortez, El Colmado Butchery, Fifty Paces, June, The Four Horsemen, and Rose's.  And here's Wells on Danny Meyer's Porchlight:

The chef is Jean-Paul Bourgeois, who is also in charge of the Blue Smoke restaurants, and he’s been smart enough to bring Blue Smoke’s sensational smoked beef jerky over to Porchlight. The tasso-and-Cheddar biscuits baked to order in cast iron have a tenderness that biscuits tend to lose when they travel this far north of the Mason-Dixon line. Above all, though, I’d go back for the dirty-rice croquettes, thoroughly penetrated by the taste of chicken liver.

Wells also has some harsh words for Aldo Sohm Wine Bar:

The menu was virtually unchanged since an October visit, when dishes like whole baked cauliflower or warm goat-cheese-and-potato parfait had more appeal. A chilled torchon of foie gras was beautifully done, but ice-wine jelly that came with it was not; it tasted like congealed chicken-and-cucumber soup. Strawberries in too-cold red wine crunched with undissolved sugar crystals. And while Mr. Sohm can talk about wine as engagingly as anyone, little of his enthusiasm had rubbed off on the other servers.

Wells does not hand out any stars this week, but he praises the food and beverages at Wildair, El Cortez, El Colmado, Porchlight, June, Rose's, and Mekelburg’s.

Zachary Feldman is impressed by the Israeli food that chef Nir Mesika is serving at Timna on St. Mark's Place: "Confited carrots and beets top a mound of chewy ancient grains that soaks up date molasses, raw tahini, and sweet vegetarian jus in warm freekeh salad. Shakshuka, a Tunisian tomato-and-egg stew, gets a New American update, with sweetbreads replacing the more common spicy lamb sausage. The delicacy is braised, then topped with a fried quail egg, grilled baguette croutons, and okra halves."

[Babu Ji by Robert Sietsema]

Ligaya Mishan likes the traditional dishes at East Village Indian newcomer Babu Ji, but finds some weak spots on the menu. Here's the critic on the dishes that miss the mark: "On one visit, the chutney was too sweet, a vexing problem since it was reprised in so many dishes. A Keralan moilee of coconut milk, turmeric, mustard seed and curry leaves was rich but listless despite the addition of lovely petals of raw sea scallop. At times I wished the flavors would stop beating around the bush."

Silvia Killingsworth of Tables for Two finds a few winners plus a bunch of clunkers at Ganso Yaki in Downtown Brooklyn. Here's Silvia on the duds: "Of the hot street-food snacks, fried dark-meat chicken was juicy, but the batter was lacking in both crispness and flavor. A waiter recommended dressing the boneless nuggets in a house-made yuzu-chili oil; would that the kitchen had already taken the liberty. Another night, a party of three could barely finish half an okonomiyaki, a traditional thick egg-and-cabbage pancake punctuated with cubes of pork belly."

[Cosme by Krieger]

Joshua David Stein is a big fan of the traditional Mexican fare at Marc Meyer's Rosie's, and the modern cuisine at Enrique Olvera's Cosme. On the former:

Throughout the rather sizeable menu, the home flavors thousands of Mexicans brought with them sing out. Mr. Meyer, whose many trips to Mexico were often at invitation of his Mexican colleagues, relies on the family recipes of Angel Andrade, his chef de cuisine, and the acuity of Chester Gerl, another CDC, to execute the complicated web of tastes embodied in the pollo en mole poblano, whose chocolate is flown in from Mexico especial.

He gives Rosie's four stars out of five, and the critic awards five out of five to Cosme.

Daily News writer Paul Shultz gives two stars out of five to The Bonnie in Astoria: "The avocado deviled eggs are tasty enough, especially with the fried jalapeno, but forlorn-looking on their plate. A beet-apricot salad boasts an excellent maple-mustard vinaigrette but all else — frisee, beets, mushy apricots and goat cheese — is 'oh well.' The starter to try is the asparagus tempura, dusted with matcha tea powder."

The Blogs: Andrew Steinthal gives a 6.7 rating to Tavola near Port Authority, Goodies First visits Sake Bar by Zabb in Jackson Heights, Sarah Zorn samples the fast-casual Indian food at Inday, and Joe DiStefano tries the Austin Ramen Cho sandwich at Smorgasburg and "The Moose" at Burnside Biscuits.


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