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Moira Hodgson

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Morandi Takes Another Hit; a Haute Barnyard Spree

The Four Seasons gets perhaps the most negative two-star review in the history of the Times; Bruni seems to think the stars were grandfathered in. A telling example of how reputation floats reviews. [NYT] Meehan, meanwhile, visits a chowhound's paradise, a Hindu temple in Flushing. [NYT] Morandi takes another blow, this time from Time Out’s Randall Lane, who like our own Adam Platt, finds it overdesigned and unimpressive, albeit with a few decent dishes. [TONY] Related: Not So Bene [NYM]

Dueling Views on Morandi; Varietal Taken to Task

Morandi gets absolutely slaughtered by Steve Cuozzo. Keith McNally has hardly received a bad review yet. [NYP] Meanwhile, Moira Hodgson loves the place: “You’ll want to taste everything on this menu.” She seems to have liked all of it, with the possible exception of an overpriced veal chop. Did these two even go to the same restaurant? [NYO] Bruni one-stars Varietal, calling the food creative but uneven and lambasting avant-garde dessert chef Jordan Kahn, who has enjoyed a lot of critical love. The desserts “don’t so much eschew convention as pummel and shatter it — literally, and often pointlessly.” [NYT]

Everybody Loves Sfoglia; Meehan Loves All BBQ

Bruni two-stars Sfoglia, the latest victory in a series for the Nantucket import, including nods from Adam Platt and Gael Greene in our Best of New York issue. The food is simple and rustic (frittatas, simple pastas), but it works for Bruni. Imagination can get you two stars, as the Ssäm Bar review showed last week, but so can execution, even if it isn’t very elaborate. [NYT] Peter Meehan surveys nearly all the area’s BBQ restaurants, finding a lot to like: the pulled pork at Pies-N-Thighs and the burnt ends at RUB, to name two. Still, no revelations here. [NYT] Sietsema hits up a Senegalese restaurant in Harlem: “Predictably, the dibi is awesome.” You said it, Bob! Has Sietsema ever met a foreign lamb dish he didn’t like? [VV]

Chodorow Sure to Be Pissed Over New ‘Times’ Steakhouse Review

This one is bound to kill Chodorow. Bruni visits a steakhouse even more vulgar than Kobe Club and awards it one star: Robert’s Steakhouse, inside the Penthouse Executive Club. Adam Perry Lang, as most recognize, is one of the city’s top meat guys. [NYT] Meehan affirms that Kefi’s has terrific food at a bargain. He notes that it was strangely quiet the nights he was there, but that has changed, we’re told, since the Underground Gourmet gave the restaurant four stars. [NYT] Think of this less as a review of Gilt than an excuse for Steve Cuozzo to acknowledge Chris Lee, one of the city’s most underappreciated chefs, whose ill fortune it was to follow Paul Liebrandt and his alienating high-concept cookery. [NYP]

Ssäm Bar Vindicated; Haute Cuisine Gets No Love

Momofuku Ssäm Bar wins two stars (!) from Bruni and completes a success story that seemed pretty unlikely a few months ago, when the place was selling Asian burritos to a handful of customers. The review is also a watershed in the changing culture of restaurants: Formal is now officially out, casual now officially legit. [NYT] Related: The I Chang [NYM] Meanwhile, Randall Lane is a lone dissenter, calling out Ssäm Bar for its unevenness, lack of focus, and the steep prices of some of its main dishes. On the whole, though, he seems to have missed the point — David Chang's loose, unfettered approach to good cooking. [TONY] Steve Cuozzo joins in the chorus of approval greeting Wayne Nish’s transformation of the stuffy March into the swinging, fusion-y Nish. The message: Remain formal at your own peril. (See reviews of Dennis Foy and Gordon Ramsay.) [NYP] Related: Bedeviled [NYM]

Critics Keep Up the Steakhouse Shuffle; Ramsay Reviewed

Ramsay strikes a chord with Ryan Sutton: "This is artful food that makes you ponder the meaning of life, but it's also accessible, gutsy fare that excites the senses and fills the tummy." [Bloomberg] Bruni does the ever popular steak two-fer (witness Platt's double-up on STK and Lonesome Dove), declares Porter House New York "an M.B.A. program for beef eaters who did undergraduate work at Outback," turning out "well-sourced, well-prepared flesh" though getting into trouble elsewhere. Despite the limo-like seats, he's not grooving to the beat (or the meat) at the other spot: "STK might want to think about buying some soundproofing, along with a vowel." [NYT] Richman isn't convinced Porter House New York is a steakhouse, or at least as good of one as its predecessor V. Instead it's "an accessible, sensible eating establishment with decent prices and classy, comprehensible food." [Bloomberg]