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Reviews for La Chine, Llama Inn, Houseman, and More

This week, Ryan Sutton praises Alex Stupak's Empellon Kitchen Table and Robert Sietsema gives two stars to Hell's Kitchen wine bar Ooviña . Here's a roundup of the rest of this week's big reviews:

[La Chine]
[La Chine]
Daniel Krieger

On his visits to La Chine in the Waldorf Astoria, Pete Wells finds the Chinese restaurant worthy of the splurge. Of one of his favorite dishes he writes: "Broad-bean-fried prawns were juicy and tender-firm inside a crisp, golden coating that flaked into spicy crumbs I couldn't help eating off the plate." The Times critic adds: "I'd suggest New York could use more Chinese restaurants that are as expensive as our most ambitious French and Italian places." Two stars.

Tejal Rao is a big fan of the refined Peruvian menu and casual setting at Brooklyn's Llama Inn: "One of my favorites was the duck sausage and rice, which came shining with duck fat and a confetti of textures—crumbles of meat, crackling skin, teeny cold smudges of liver mousse. Though the menu didn’t refer to the dish explicitly, it contained all the joys of that great Peruvian comfort arroz con pato—the beer-marinated meat, the rice kissed with cumin—blown out to its delicious extremes." Two stars.

At Vaucluse, Adam Platt mostly enjoys his meals, though he credits this in part to dining with his parents. He writes: "These quaint, slightly dated touches include white linen on the tables, generally attentive service, and a noise level that, in my father’s words, 'doesn’t make it feel like I’m eating dinner in the middle of a train station.' My father’s mood was further improved by the classic 'Hors d’Oeuvres' section of the menu, chocked with familiar delicacies like beef tartare (rosy, hand cut, and dotted with capers), smooth rounds of foie gras terrine, and an excellent slice of pâté en croûte stuffed with nuggets of duck and pork and seized in a cool gelée." Two stars.

[The bar at Vaucluse] Photo by Nick Solares

[The bar at Vaucluse] Photo by Nick Solares

Several of the dishes at Houseman leave Silvia Killingsworth of Tables for Two puzzled: "Fries or salad can be added for two dollars, but one night the former came treacherously oversalted, which was starting to seem like a trend. Lamb meatballs were unctuous, if a bit dry, rescued by juicier pulled lamb meat below, but it was hard to justify paying thirty dollars for only three of them." She adds: "Like the neighborhood, Houseman has real potential, but it needs a few tweaks before it feels like home."

[Houseman] Photo by Nick Solares

[Houseman] Photo by Nick Solares

Ligaya Mishan seriously digs the kosher-Uzbek offerings at Taste of Samarkand in Queens: "Under a lattice of mayonnaise, a salad of beef tongue in pliant strips and crunchy cucumber and matchstick potatoes was refreshing and lighter than the sum of its ingredients. Samsa, meat pastries that elsewhere I've found bulky and inert, were flaky and improbably airy."

After trying all the tacos, Gael Greene prefers the chicken at Playa Betty's: "The luscious whole, butterflied, marinated chicken served on a foil-lined metal tray with grilled scallions, a bundle of corn tortillas, and Mexican grilled corn has me thinking I might send a pickup service to buy it for me one Sunday night when I usually sloth-out at home. That first visit, the white meat is dry but the thigh and a leg are juicy enough."

— In a double review, Zachary Feldman visits sister restaurants Rebelle and Pearl & Ash on The Bowery. Of chef Daniel Eddy's fare at younger sibling Rebelle he writes: "You should try taking the edge off, too, by sharing plates of effortlessly pleasurable plump anchovy fillets or an impeccable smoked duck foie gras torchon, a daffy touch and perfect for slathering on toasted sourdough."

[The bar at Rebelle] Photo by Daniel Krieger

[The bar at Rebelle] Photo by Daniel Krieger

The Post's Steve Cuozzo praises the brunch at Raoul's in Soho: "The resulting lunch-brunch hybrid boasts a soufflé apple pancake that was worth waiting 40 years for, and a luscious smoked-salmon omelet that recalled a beloved favorite of mine at the original East 53rd Street Brasserie. Steak à cheval au poivre, a bavette cut, is a few ounces smaller than the dinner shell steak, and is crowned with a runny sunny-side-up egg."

The Blogs: Joe DiStefano finds the courage to visit Tut's Hub in Astoria, and both The Pink Pig and The Food Doc visit a healthier Hearth.

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