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Reviews for North End Grill, Benoit, Llama Inn, and More

Ryan Sutton gives two stars to the small plates at Lowlife and Robert Sietsema finds a cheap eats haven on Essex. Here's a roundup of the rest of this week's big reviews:

[Llama Inn]
[Llama Inn]
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At Benoit, Alain Ducasse's Midtown Bistro, Pete Wells finds himself in Paris. In the review, Wells likens the menu by chef Philippe Bertineau to an opera: "The menu works like a season at the Metropolitan Opera. A core of preposterously old-fashioned classics is rounded out with a few modern compositions to keep everybody on their toes." Of Bertineau he adds: "Philippe Bertineau isn’t cooking airline food. He is the restaurant’s third chef. With any luck, Mr. Ducasse won’t need a fourth for a long time." Two stars.

Tejal Rao praises a lot of the dishes at Danny Meyer's North End Grill: "Now you’ll find that the open kitchen and its oak wood-burning grills and mesquite charcoal-fueled ovens are turning out excellent, simple compositions—exquisite whole fish on the bone, thick, juicy pork chops, and sardines split open on toast under a confetti of celery leaves." Rao adds: "Like many of the best dishes at North End Grill, the serving is dead-simple, just meat tweaked with time and fire and salt." Two stars.

North End Grill Daniel Krieger/Eater

[North End Grill] Photo by Daniel Krieger

Though he finds many inconsistencies, Adam Platt thinks Midtown's La Chine does have its moments: "Chef Kong’s wan approximation of Peking duck had a wet, un-crispy quality to it, as if it had just been run slowly through the kitchen dishwasher, but the wok-fried long beans with minced pork disappeared from the table in seconds, as did the strips of Berkshire-pork collar."

In Harlem, Ligaya Mishan finds humble Senegalese food in a small space at Africa Kine. Mishan on some of her favorites: "Come early for chicken yassa, the meat exuding lemon under onions grown slack and sweating sugar, and lamb mafe, a stew creamy with peanut butter, elsewhere in town often too beholden to peanuts but here leavened by streaks of sweet and sour."

Llama Inn, the restaurant from a former EMP sous chef, has a big fan in Shauna Lyon of Tables for Two: "While [Erik] Ramirez’s roots in Manhattan’s anointed temple of fine dining might strike fear in fans of the Peruvian-rotisserie-chicken chain Pio Pio, Llama Inn turns out to be fun, unusual, a little bit goofy, and extremely delicious."

Llama Inn Llama Inn

[Llama Inn] Photo from Llama Inn

Gael Greene enjoys an afternoon tea at The Baccarat Hotel's Grand Salon: "The two of us start with the wonderfully decked out and delicious savories of the Prince’s menu, my guest Diane cutting each of them precisely in half. Roasted chicken roulade with smoked ricotta and pesto on everything crisp. Lobster salad with truffles on buttered Parker House roll. Deviled quail egg with sturgeon caviar, and pickled onion on brioche. Cucumber with watermelon radish and goat cheese on white bread. Smoked salmon with dill and Robiolina cheese on marble rye."

At Sushi Inoue in Harlem, Zachary Feldman finds a sashimi sanctuary. The Village Voice critic writes: "Cake, panna cotta, and even a Mont Blanc all buzz with the grassy astringency of the powdered green tea. Bookending a lengthy lineup of tastes, the delicate sweets feel like proper gifts. So does Sushi Inoue."

Christina Izzo of TONY likes some of the dishes at Llama Inn: "In a take on tiradito, sashimi-thin slips of red snapper are set in a vibrantly acidic pool of yuzu, ginger and persimmon that’s good enough to drink, but the subpar quality of the fish isn’t worthy of a sauce of that caliber. And though the beef heart proves to be a spicy, succulent exception, a section of anticucho skewers are marred by aggressively adobo-rubbed shrimp and disappointingly dry pork belly."

The Blogs: The Food Doc attends Ssäm Bar's dinner series, Restaurant Girl heads to the revamped Acme, Joe DiStefano praises the Chinese-American fare at Wo Hop, and The Infatuation's Hillary Reinsberg gives Lowlife a 7.9 rating.

{Acme] Photo by Nick Solares

{Acme] Photo by Nick Solares

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