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Belcourt

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Critics Like Chop Suey Despite Themselves; One Star for Ilili

Frank Bruni awards one star to Ilili, establishing the restaurant’s critical reception as generally admiring but far from ardent. Bruni uses it as an occasion to discourse on the current trend of highlighting previously low-rent genres, but he seems to have liked all the food and not found the prices or noise too distracting. [NYT] Steve Cuozzo wanted to hate Chop Suey, he really did. The name was dumb, and he was skeptical of consulting chef Zak Pelaccio, whose “résumé of short-lived eatery associations … is as long as his list of bona fide accomplishments is short.” But he loved the food and its “bold, explosive” flavors. [NYP] Ryan Sutton also plays the “better than it has any right to be” card with Chop Suey, declaring the place as “jolting, gorgeous, frightening” and reluctantly praising its Korean-themed food. [Bloomberg]

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Chicken to the Rescue at Blue Ribbon Sushi; The Smith Hit Hard

The latest Blue Ribbon Sushi gets a whopping two stars from Frank Bruni, despite its titular sushi being not that great. No, it’s the souped-up fried chicken that added a star, making this two weeks in a row that poultry has saved the day. [NYT] Paul Adams hits new East Village comfort-food zone the Smith with one of his rare bad reviews — generally, he finds the food clumsy and gross: “A main course of lamb schnitzel ($17) shows what the kitchen can do at its best: not particularly much.” Ouch! [NYS] Nor was Danyelle Freeman especially enthralled with Brasserie 44, which got one and a half stars out of four. Her recollections of its food seem highly detailed, suggesting that she didn’t leave her notebook behind. [NYDN] Related: So the Critic Left Her (?) Notes. So What?

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Naked Chef Returns to Food Network; Starbucks' ‘Skinny’ Issue

At long last, Jamie Oliver is returning to Food Network; catch him battling Mario Batali on Iron Chef America Sunday night, and then stay tuned for a preview of his new show, Jamie at Home. [Eat for Victory/VV] If anyone's going to see mice in your restaurant, food writers are the worst-case scenario. Right, Mermaid Inn? [The Feed/TONY] One man who’s had enough of unsolicited menus showing up under his door has designed a wannabe deterrent. [BoingBoing via Gothamist]

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A Nearly Full House at Momofuku, But Tumbleweeds at Cantina

Spot Check
You’re a brave soul if you plan on checking out that new East Village or Lower East Side restaurant this weekend — if it’s full-up, you’ll be turned onto the streets with the entire teenage population of Strong Island. That’s why last Saturday we hit eight spots between the hours of 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. to take inventory — our head counts may or may not hold true this weekend when there will be far less drunken Santas running amok, but we’re pleased to see that the wait has lessened at Momofuku (in fact, there wasn’t one!) and are a bit shocked to discover that Jason Neroni is sometimes pretty much the only person in the dining room at Cantina. Bet he’s counting the seconds till 10 Downing.

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Ilili Makes An Enemy in Steve Cuozzo; Bruni Picks on Grayz

Though the food sounded pretty good at Ilili, the place treated Steve Cuozzo so badly that the Cuozz was forced to pay them back with an atomic review — one that sounds richly deserved. [NYP] In one of his silliest reviews, Frank Bruni goes on for half the article complaining that restaurants don't always fit in neat categories, then punishes Grayz for it with a blistering one-star review. Odd. [NYT] Bruni's mini-review in Dining Briefs is much more logical and succinct: “That’s Belcourt: the predictable made surprising; comfort with a wink.” Meanwhile, on the undercard, Peter Meehan was mostly pleased with Graffiti, despite its minute size, and Marian Burros not so happy with Lucy of Gramercy. [NYT]

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Babbo Sommelier's Enters the West Village Fray; Applebee's Serving Cake Man Raven Red Velvet

Downtown Brooklyn: Applebee’s has started serving Cake Man Raven red-velvet cake in an effort to compete with nearby Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue. [NYDN] East Village: Belcourt is now open for lunch, which features a lamb burger and roasted butternut squash and apple ravioli; weekend brunch is also on the way, with vanilla and bourbon French toast and salt-cod hash. [Grub Street] Forest Hills: Young Chefs Academy cooking school for kids has opened its first branch in New York City at 108-10 72nd Avenue. [NYT] Lower East Side: New Austrian bar Cafe Katja at 79 Orchard Street features Austrian wine and German beer, which you can gulp down with meats and cheeses and homemade pickles, or traditional fare like goulash. [NYT] West Village: Dell’Anima, a collaboration between former Bread Tribeca sous-chef Gabriel Thompson and former Babbo sommelier Joe Campanale, opens next week on Eighth Avenue near Jane Street. [NYS]

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Prune Alum Doesn't Fall Far From the East Village Tree

Clinton Hill: The construction workers who opened Il Torchio have created an intimate space serving elegantly constructed Italian tapas but can’t resist sporting baseball caps and — beer in hand — approaching customers to say what’s up. [Clinton Hill Blog] East Village: Prune alum Matt Hamilton will run the kitchen at Belcourt when it opens next month. [NYS] Harlem: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que offers up a Labor Day-weekend recipe: really salty potatoes (yes, that’s 2:1 spuds to salt). [NYS] Midtown West: The London Times picks the Burger Joint in the Parker Meridian as the best burger in New York. [A Hamburger Today] North Fork: A foodie farm tour featuring tastings and cooking demonstrations on September 9 will make a stop at Garden of Eve, a supplier to Flatbush Farm. [Brooklyn Based] West Village: Anita Lo always has a vegetarian entrée available at Annisa in addition to the one listed on the menu. [Restaurant Girl]

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