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Cuozzo on the Return of Fine Dining, Plus Reviews for Nix, Phil-Am Kusina, and More

Ryan Sutton gives one star to John Fraser's Nix this week. Here's a roundup of the rest of the week's big reviews

Le Coucou
Nick Solares

The name may remind him of a lice treatment, and some of the dishes can miss the mark, but Pete Wells enjoys most of what he tries at John Fraser's newest. Here he is on some highlights: "In the part of the menu labeled 'lighter,' I like the little carrots baked in parchment with spices and bulgur very much. Tomato water, buzzed with fresh green chile rings, is so entrancing that it even made the mung beans bobbing in it taste good, although its higher purpose is to perk up a charred half of an avocado." As mentioned yesterday, Wells gives the restaurant two stars.

Photo by Nick Solares

Two-year-old Staten Island restaurant Phil-Am Kusina hasn’t quite found its footing, according to Ligaya Mishan: "Other dishes could have used such boldness. Sisig pusit, grilled loops and tentacles of squid, arrived swamped in soy on a silent skillet that should have sizzled. Sinigang, a soup whose defining note is tamarind, barely raised a pucker. Almost everything needed adjusting with bagoong, particularly kare-kare, a peanut-butter stew that tasted of little else."

The Post’s Steve Cuozzo is celebrating the return of fine dining restaurants to New York, ultimately telling hipsters to "suck it." Of newcomer Le Coucou he writes: "Helmed by celebrated young chef Daniel Rose, who gained fame at Spring in Paris, is already one of New York’s liveliest dining arenas. It seethes with energy and laughter, but it’s 100 percent ‘fine.’ There are linen tablecloths, candles, chandeliers, and the 86 seats are spaced so that everyone can hear others at their table. The well-trained floor crew patrols the floor like attentive swans. Menus, drinks, dishes and the bill arrive when they’re supposed to."

Photo by Nick Solares

Tables for Two writer Shuana Lyons praises chef John Fraser for finding "the joy in plants" at Nix. She notes: "The Playa, a zippy watermelon cocktail, tastes like pure summer, the tequila barely detectable. A recent dish of jicama shavings pressed with cayenne, salt, blood orange, and lime was a mind-bending balance of crunchy, tangy, sweet, and refreshing. In an adaptation of cacio e pepe, Fraser lards polenta with butter and piles on smooth shiitake mushrooms. Pity the gluten-free diner, because the best offering could be the bread."

Photo by Nick Solares

From traditional Fujianese soups to razor clams, Zachary Feldman finds plenty of dishes worth returning for at New Dong Hai: "Other selections from the restaurant's live and fresh-caught seafood fare nearly as well. Head-on shrimp, boiled and served up with a ginger-vinegar sauce, are briny and sweet. They're equally excellent butterflied or fried "harbor style" and served with garlic or XO sauce. Also available from the menu: jellyfish, screw clams (sea cucumber gonads), and tiny sea snails; spring the latter from their shells with toothpicks."

The Blogs: The Pink Pig tries Maison Premiere’s younger sibling, Sauvage.

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