— This week, Pete Wells visits a new restaurant that feels old: Grünauer Bistro in Yorkville. Wells writes: "Not much about the traditional cooking under Thomas Slivovsky, Grünauer Bistro’s chef, could be called nouvelle, but ghosts of Vienna 79 whisper in the kitchen. Dill-strewn bands of house-cured gravlax with whole-grain mustard sauce reappear, and are worth getting. Applesauce cut with horseradish still makes an interesting complement to the tafelspitz, beef braised to tenderness with root vegetables in a light broth." As mentioned yesterday, he gives the restaurant one star.
— While the "ridiculously and seemingly deliberately noisy room" can be unpleasant, Gael Greene still thinks Jose Garces’ Amada is worthy of praise: "Nothing seems especially new or original. We each choose a duo of offerings and then a few more. With so many items priced at $9 or $10, why not? What is remarkable, I notice half way through the waves hitting our bare table, is that almost everything I taste is good or very good."
— Some of the dishes at District Saigon in Astoria can be far too sweet, according to Ligaya Mishan. Still, dishes like beef pho are able to win her over: "The best dishes favor salt, like shrimp deep-fried in the shell and given a lashing of butter in the wok, or ground lamb shoulder bundled in peppery leaves that the Vietnamese call la lot. These could almost be dolmades; the Liens use lamb instead of the classic beef as a salute to Astoria’s Greek population."
— In a rare restaurant twofer, New York’s Adam Platt files on John Fraser’s Nix, and the Estela team’s Cafe Altro Paradiso. At the former, Platt is impressed with Fraser’s vegetable innovations: "The 'Bolder' column of the menu contains a hunk of deep-fried potato bread the size of a small limpet mine, and an ingenious David Chang-meets-General Tso vegan-chicken mash-up made with tempura-fried pieces of cauliflower shellacked in a sticky Tso’s-like sauce flavored with paprika, served with a little sidecar of house-cured pickles and a bamboo steamer filled with a stack of moon-shaped steamed buns." Two stars.
— Further south in Hudson Square, Platt is slightly disappointed by the Estela spinoff: "Unlike the intimate walk-up space on East Houston Street, this larger, pleasantly boxy room feels like the kind of amiable, high-volume place that you’d wind up in for brunch after aimlessly wandering the leafy streets of Kansas City or Seattle on a Saturday afternoon." He adds: "Compared with the vividly focused Mediterranean-esque cooking at Estela, the modest, almost achingly familiar Italian menu a little run-of-the-mill too." He gives Cafe Altro Paradiso one star.
— Steve Cuozzo is pleased to find that Union Square Park’s Pavilion has found its footing, noting that the third time is indeed the charm. After finding the food to be "shockingly mediocre" two years ago, the Post critic is happy to see a change: "Plump, sweet Maine mussels have the run of a classic white wine and herb broth. A sparkling pyramid of green papaya and mango julienned with long beans and sun-dried tomatoes is a salad highlight, nicely tinted with mint, cilantro and coriander. Salmon a la plancha and whole branzino measured up to those in any good modern-American restaurant."
— At a very busy The Lucky Bee, Zachary Feldman likes most of what he tries, particularly the curries: "[Chef] Bennett makes them in-house, and they're especially intense and complex. A green version brims with vegetables, while heady red peanut and milder coconut options go nicely with beef. A tart orange curry had me practically reeling one night. If you prefer your seafood fried, Bennett does justice to whole (sadly headless) snapper and catfish, dusting them in just enough tapioca flour that they shatter easily with a tap."
— At The Original Shanty Crab in the Bronx, Nicholas Niarchos finds a menu full of hearty hits. Here is the Tables for Two writer on some of his favorites: "Crustaceans reign, particularly those of the infraorder Brachyura. The Craby Clams, in spite of being misspelled, are a must. They’re stuffed with crab meat and bread crumbs, and put any mere crabcake to shame. Combo deals, named 'A Banquet for Crab Lovers' and 'Italian Feast,' are recommended for a group."
The Blogs: Goodies First tries a handful of comfort food restaurants, and Joe DiStefano leaves Rosario’s Giuseppe satisfied.