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Danyelle Freeman

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Bar Boulud, Loved at Last; Cuozzo Not on the Dovetail Bandwagon

“It's a new era, and Bar Boulud belongs to it.” That's why, even though the hot items are mostly “snoozers,” the restaurant deserves two stars. Another Zeitgeist review from Frank Bruni. [NYT] Steve Cuozzo doesn't give out stars, but if he did, he wouldn't be giving three to Dovetail, whose stellar critical reception he recapitulates in a forceful, acerbic review. “The Times' Frank Bruni, who found 'drab' décor at Anthos a reason to deny that truly original, forward-Greek place three stars, overlooked Dovetail's butt-ugly brown palette to exult over the likes of — holy cow! — monkfish and lobster on the same plate.” [NYP] Writing on his GQ blog, Alan Richman obliterates Brasserie Les Halles, but why? Who was thinking about it, anyway? And who thought it was good? The review seems conceived as a blow against Tony Bourdain, but it does him no harm. [GQ]

Wylie Wins Respect for Molecular Gastronomy With a Third Star; Bar Boulud Finally Gets a Good Review

In a landmark for molecular gastronomy in America, the movement’s top proponent, Wylie Dufresne, gets his third star for wd-50. A historic review, especially as Frank Bruni expresses the usual reservations about overly cerebral cooking. [NYT] Bar Boulud finally gets some respect from Alan Richman, who praises its blue-ribbon charcuterie and says of its much-maligned mains, “The worst that can be said…is that the recipes are relentlessly conventional — lamb stew, roasted chicken, boudin blanc. The best is that such a style of cooking is terribly missed.” [GQ] Restaurant Girl seems to have been distinctly unimpressed with about half of the dishes she tried at Adour, resulting in a lukewarm, two-and-a-half-star review. Ducasse’s latest is not getting off to a great start. [NYDN]

Bar Blanc Draws Its Deuce; Mia Dona Welcomed by Richman

Frank Bruni finds Bar Blanc fussy, mannered, overly fastidious — and very, very good. The two stars should take the sting out of his review for the place's owners. [NYT] Related: Raising the Bar Restaurant Girl hits Williamsburg’s Zenkichi and, between the room, the food, and the sake selection, seems to have a real find on her hands. [NYDN] Randall Lane joins in the general enthusiasm for Dovetail , but now he seems unwilling to go back to his five-star-granting ways and so ends up giving them only four — the equivalent, in traditional star terms, to a two-star review, which is not what this reads as. [TONY]

Another Triumph for Dovetail; Another Disappointment for Bar Boulud

Citing cleverness, finesse and his own “hugely positive” experiences eating there, Frank Bruni gives Dovetail three stars to go along with Adam Platt’s. [NYT] Related: This Dove Flies Poor Bar Boulud, on the other hand, continues to get pilloried. Randall Lane gives it only three stars (of six), and no doubt it would be a lot worse if not for the world-class charcuterie. [TONY] Related: Daniel Disappoints Restaurant Girl, too, got her licks in on BB, giving it two stars (of four) for Syrah-heavy sauces, unreliable service, and mishandled snails and tartare. This has got to be killing Boulud. [NYDN]

Bubbles in Your Vodka a Good Thing on the Upper East Side; House-Made Charcuterie Hits Cobble Hill

Chinatown: A stellar Chinese dessert discovery: “[F]laky green pastries that resembled caterpillars” flavored with durian fruit “came to the table piping hot filled with a bright yellow pudding.” Find them at Chatham Square (6 Chatham Square). [Gothamist] Clinton Hill: The food at Restaurant New Orleans is good, but the entire operation seems completely haphazard. [Clinton Hill Blog] Cobble Hill: The Red Deli at 264 Clinton Street near Verandah Place opens this week with “house-made charcuterie along with grab-and-go items like fried chicken.” [TONY] Dumbo: The D Space offering an Indian buffet is actually called Marrakesh Express, and the food is worth a try. [Dumbo NYC] Nolita: This list of spots to drink up free or cheap wine includes Le Jardin Bistro, where on Monday and Tuesday nights $12 adds all-you-can drink Bordeaux to your dinner. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Upper East Side: A new sparkling vodka called Camitz is for sale at Sherry-Lehmann, Astor Wines, and, in the near future, at Morrell’s, but you can try it in a cocktail at Park Avenue Winter among a few other restaurants around town. [Strong Buzz]

Praise for 2nd Avenue Deli and Dovetail; Southgate Suffers

Frank Bruni can't help but make a one-act play out of his one-star 2nd Avenue Deli review: Sholom Aleichem by way of Oscar Wilde. A classic review, even if you don't come out of it knowing much about the food at 2nd Avenue Deli. [NYT] Reviewing on his blog, Alan Richman delivers a less colorful, but more accurate and knowing account, of the place, which is even more admiring. [GQ] Ryan Sutton isn't impressed one bit by Southgate — he thinks it's expensive and uninspired, broadly speaking. Not a whit of enthusiasm here. [Bloomberg]

Bar Carrera Getting Bigger in the East Village; Did We Mention Bar Blanc Is Like a Bar But Better?

Astoria: Tell Astorya doesn’t seem to be reopening anytime soon. [Joey in Astoria] Clinton Hill: Green Planet has opened with its shelves stocked with vitamins and drink mixes, but some still hope that actual produce could turn up. [Clinton Hill Blog] East Village: The sliver of a Spanish restaurant Bar Carrera is expanding into the space next door. [Eater] Midtown West: South Gate has nifty, hand-held, touch-screen wine lists, which sound similar to the bar-top ones at Adour. [Zagat] West Village: Lucky couples (or specifically, husbands) who scored a table at One If by Land this Thursday will find the food finally on par with the carriage-house setting now that Picholine alum Craig Hopson is manning the beef Wellington and adding his own dishes — like Gruyère gnocchi with wild Burgundy snails — to the menu. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Danyelle Freeman labels Bar Blanc "an ambitious restaurant in a laid-back disguise," almost like a watering hole with restaurant-caliber cooking. [Restaurant Girl] Related: One If by Land Breaks Out a Bar Menu, and Not a Minute Too Soon

Le Cirque Back in the Three-Star Club; It’s La Belle Epoque Again at Adour

Who says Frank Bruni has no heart? After demoting Le Cirque last year, Bruni restores the third star, courtesy largely to new chef Christophe Bellanca’s masterly handling of ultraluxe ingredients and, of course, the Maccioni family’s trademark feudal service. [NYT] Maybe you don’t consider the salmon at Dovetail “a religious experience,” the way Restaurant Girl does, but everyone seems to agree with Adam Platt that it’s a very fine restaurant and outrageously good for the Upper West Side. [NYDN] Related: This Dove Flies Ryan Sutton has filed the first review of Adour, and he makes it sound, at least to anachronistically minded readers, truly awesome. Did you know Adour is serving lobster thermidor? Lobster thermidor! In this day and age! Sutton is also impressed by the virtual wine list, as most other visitors have been. [Bloomberg]

Mesa Grill Keeps One Star, Barely; Richman Rejuvenated by Dovetail

Mesa Grill loses a star, but this is one of the worst one-star reviews you'll ever read, even going so far as to compare it to gulag gourmet: “During one dinner the three slivers of chicken in the appetizer tacos were among the most shriveled, desiccated pieces of meat I’ve seen outside a bodega buffet at 3 a.m.” [NYT] Related: Salute the Gulag Gourmet Movement Now this is something cheering: Alan Richman found a tablecloth restaurant that got him genuinely excited. Dovetail's food, he says approvingly, is “exuberant and shocking” — in a good way. [Bloomberg] Paul Adams hits Cooper Tavern, a not particularly ambitious hotel restaurant recently given a "meh" review by Frank Bruni, and likes it a little better, although the fries are “pathetically poor” and the pork chop is “hardly going to be the talk of the city's pork chop grapevine.” We can testify that that part is true. [NYS]

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?

So the Critic Left Her (?) Notes. So What?

Though it may not be a journalistic scandal up there with the Judith Miller saga, the missing notebook found in Brasserie 44, which may or may not belong to Danyelle “Restaurant Girl” Freeman, is getting a lot of play this morning. The story: Notes were left behind at a dinner and, according to their finders, could only be those of a restaurant critic. And, since Freeman is reviewing Brasserie 44 this week, they are naturally thought to be hers. What's the big deal? Aside from the sloppiness factor on the critic's part, which is fun for a quick snicker, what real difference does it make to the reviewer, the reader, or the restaurateur if someone has a piece of paper that says “mushy chicken” on it? Something about Danyelle Freeman just brings out the hate, but we can't say it's not entertaining to watch from the sidelines. Meanwhile, it's a good thing Adam Platt only scribbles his mordant asides on a vellum tablet, or we'd be in trouble here at New York. Which NYC Food Critic Is An Idiot? (Hint: Danyelle Freeman!) [Gawker]

Barbuto Saved by a Chicken; Fiamma Comes Up Short

The wildly uneven Barbuto earns a single star from Frank Bruni, almost entirely on the strength of a well-roasted Bell & Evans chicken. To quote Winston Churchill, “Some chicken!” [NYT] Alan Richman was appalled by how small the portions were at Grayz, how much they cost, and how shady most of them were, except for the magnificent, world-beating short rib: “In complexity and satisfaction, this dish reminded me most of the Gray Kunz of Lespinasse, the chef we miss so much.” [Bloomberg] Randall Lane gets that Fiamma’s Fabio Trachocchi is cooking in a grand, Continental style and doesn’t hold that against him, but the food is too rich and the service too sloppy to give him the five or six stars the place would have liked And so they have to settle for four. [TONY]

One Star Seals the Deal for Irving Mill; Ilili Surprises in a Good Way

The story on Irving Mill was written before Frank Bruni delivered the coup de grâce — an ambivalent one-star review that pointed out the restaurant's odd inconsistencies. At this point, a one star was probably a best-case scenario for the place. [NYT] Speaking of best-case scenarios, we bet that Gordon Ramsay had higher hopes for Bruni's rereview of his big restaurant than the one that runs in Dining Briefs. Bruni finds Gordon Ramsay at the London still excellent but boring, and Peter Meehan isn't too crazy about Bun. [NYT] We heard that Ilili was a disaster, with bad service and worse food. So did Paul Adams, who was surprised to find that the word on the street was dead wrong. Adams even calls the food was “far, far better than it needs to be.” [NYS]

Ten Moments to Remember From 2007

“Life fades … vision dims … and all that remains is memory.” Such are the haunting first words of The Road Warrior, and we can’t help but think of them as we look back, through heavy lids, at the year that was. 2007 was a memorable restaurant year in so many ways, but there are a few that stick out in our minds. Our favorite moments of the last year would definitely have to include:

Allen & Delancey Gets Its Two-Star Due; Irving Mill Continues to Uninspire

In spite of lousy desserts and a misstep in the fish department there, Frank Bruni couldn't avoid giving Allen and Delancey's complex, accomplished food two stars. [NYT] Alan Richman, no pushover, was also very impressed by Allen & Delancey, though he noted that the chef's strength clearly lies in the realm of turf, rather than surf. Still, the respect is there: “The visceral satisfaction is high. He piles on flavors, and he does so with assurance.” [Bloomberg] Irving Mill: tired concept, spotty execution. Restaurant Girl joins the chorus. [NYDN]

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]

Fiamma Earns Its Third Star; Love for Kenny Shopsin

Fiamma hits the three-star jackpot, tickling Frank Bruni in his sweet spot and earning itself the critical credibility Steve Hanson wanted when he hired Fabio Trabocchi. Bruni admits the place isn't Italian, but he is in love with the ultrarich, ultracomposed food. [NYT] Market Table took over the space that was Shopsin's, and this gave the Randall Lane the good idea of reviewing both restaurants at the same time. Market Table earns four stars (out of six, mind you) for its solid food and gracious service. Kenny, in his new digs at Essex Street Market, gets three for his still terrific food and his not-so-gracious service. [TONY] The Fiamma review should wash away any melancholy caused by Alan Richman's lukewarm number on Primehouse, Fiamma's sister. Richman likes the steaks pretty well and singles out crab cake for enthusiastic praise, but he casts a skeptical eye on pretty much everything else, from its resident bull-god to the Himalayan salt aging room. [Bloomberg]

Gawker Lays Hate on Restaurant Girl Danyelle Freeman

Danyelle Freeman
Now that Bruni Digest author Julia Langbein is blogging for Gourmet, you don’t hear many jabs at Frank’s purple prose anymore. Enter Gawker, which yesterday took aim at a much fresher target in not one but three posts skewering Danyelle Freeman, a.k.a. “Restaurant Hurl.” Somehow we don’t think Gawker’s back-to-back parody reviews — which focused on a sandwich we eat about three times a week, Despaña’s El Quixote — will cause Freeman’s future dispatches to be any less florid and torrid.

Cipriani Charged With ‘Highway Robbery’; Market Table Gets a Big Kiss From RG

Frank Bruni pens one of his best zero-star reviews ever in putting down Harry Cipriani, hard: “The crime that comes to mind first when I think of the Ciprianis is highway robbery. Based on my recent experience, that’s what happens almost any time Harry Cipriani on Fifth Avenue serves lunch or dinner.” Brillo-like potatoes? $23 for asparagus? Bruni makes 'em pay. [NYT] Market Table gets two and a half stars from Restaurant Girl, who praises the solid American cooking and buys into the overall concept. We wondered if MT wouldn't be the restaurant that absorbed the Haute Barnyard backlash, but it seems to have dodged it so far. [NYDN] Paul Adams hits Tailor and delivers the most intelligently rendered version of what seems to be the verdict on the place: The food is brilliant but spotty, and the drinks are great. [NYS]

Pamplona Given a New Lease on Life; Bobo Hit Hard

Alex Ureña's somewhat mainstreamed restaurant, Pamplona, earns the catchall two-star rating from Frank Bruni — a great victory for them, since it legitimizes the restaurant and puts it on the solid footing it desperately needed. Bruni doesn't sound especially impressed, however: “His best dishes are more than memorable enough to redeem Pamplona’s shortcomings.” Well, that's good! [NYT] Critics tend to like writing about restaurants that fail badly in one way (such as the food) while succeeding in another, less important way (such as the room). That disjunction gives Danyelle Freeman free rein to jump with both feet onto Bobo. [NYDN] Randall Lane checks in on the two newly opened Mexican restaurants, Toloache and Los Dados and likes them both okay, but he has changed his ways and is now throwing around stars like they were manhole covers: three (of six) for Toloache, home of the famous grasshopper taco, and two for meatpacking trendhole Los Dados. [TONY]