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Hudson River Cafe

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Monkey Bar Gets Hit; Three Stars for Café Boulud

Paul Adams liked some things about Monkey Bar, but it’s never a good sign if you hire a famous Chinese chef (Patricia Yeo) and the review includes the words “My neighborhood Chinese takeout does better dumplings.” [NYS] Café Boulud, in an important rereview, gets three stars — enough to add momentum to Daniel Boulud’s empire building. [NYT] Insieme looks dull, observes Lauren Collins in The New Yorker, but “profligate flavor and spirited service” show themselves once the food starts coming. [NYer]

Perilla Found to be Basically Okay; Richman Loves Balthazar Even More Than The Good Fork

Perilla tried to be sober and sane, and what was the result? One star from Frank Bruni. But that’s still pretty good for a first-time effort, even by a ‘Top Chef.’ [NYT] It’s no surprise Alan Richman approves of Balthazar, given his fondness for insouciance in restaurants. He all but opens the floodgates of his enthusiasm for Keith McNally’s flagship. [Bloomberg] Related: Why Is Alan Richman So in Love With Brooklyn? In an apparent effort to differentiate the two once and for all, Andrea Thompson considers both the Farm on Adderley and Flatbush Farm in one column. But read closer, and only one entrée is mentioned at each place, a disservice to both. [NYer]

New Bourgeoisie Magnet Opens in Harlem

The development of Harlem is old news, but there are still days when it catches you by surprise. The last time we were up on 133rd Street, we were walking off ribs from Dinosaur, and the only thing there was an iffy-looking garage. Now? The 6000-square-feet Hudson River Cafe, a massive outdoor eatery where neighborhood grandees can repose in the sun and eat yellowtail sashimi, caviar, smoked fish mousse, and other upscale treats. The restaurant also offers original cocktails named for local sites (a Grant’s Tomb, anybody?) and a grab bag of local Hudson Valley products. It would be easy to make sport of Hudson River Cafe and say, “There goes the neighborhood.” More likely, it’s where the neighborhood will go to brunch. Hudson River Cafe, 697 W. 133rd St., nr. Twelfth Ave.; 212-491-9111

Saint Patrick's Day Not the Only Excuse to Drink This Weekend

Clinton Hill: Olivino Wines will host a free tasting tonight. [Clinton Hill Blog] Dumbo: BoConcept's opening bash tonight offers free vodka to benefit children. [Brooklyn Record] Greenpoint: A vegetarian restaurant named William Howard Taft will open soon on Calyer Street. There's a story behind the odd name, but don't ask us to explain it. [Gowanus Lounge] Harlem: The sleek waterfront Hudson River Cafe is about to have its grand opening. [Uptown Flavor] But the DEN will give you a free cocktail or appetizer just for checking out Vanessa Williams's new modest-budget film. [Uptown Flavor] Prospect Heights: New fair-trade coffee at Prospect Perk tastes like ox, hippie, and doped-up poet. Which is, apparently, good. [dailyheights.com] Tribeca: There's a "forgotten-cask" Cognac tasting tonight at Brandy Library; freebies mean Single-Malt Saturday is canceled. Farther downtown, plans for a two-story restaurant may overshadow Pier 26 boathouse. [downtown express] Union Square: Zen Palate to open vegetarian burger chain. [VV]