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Nick Paumgarten

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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]

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‘The New Yorker’ Hits Fiamma Hard

The New Yorker’s “Tables for Two” reviews have generally been mordant little affairs, short on criticism and long on wry descriptions of restaurant culture. Not this week. Nick Paumgarten comes down hard on Fiamma, describing “FEMA-like” service, cold food, a martini made without vermouth, and, in general, the very picture of a major ripoff operation, subsisting on “a strong euro and the proximity of the Soho Grand hotel.” It’s a wild departure from the usual “Tables for Two” mold, and though it may or may not be reflective of Fiamma (practically all of the reviews have been very positive, including Adam Platt’s two-star job), it’s certainly a lot more fun to read. Something tells us Paumgarten had a lot of fun writing it. Tables for Two: Fiamma [NYer]

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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]

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Gemma Rewarded for Its Calculations; Tailor Makes a Fan

Frank Bruni, surprisingly grants Gemma a single star. Bruni sees the place as a slicker, less technically accomplished Morandi — an insta-enoteca calculated to the nth degree to please modern middlebrows. Which, we guess, is worth a single star these days. [NYT] Ryan Sutton is, as usual, the first to review Tailor, which he finds a molecular wonderland of trippy but delicious foods: exactly what a certain kind of restaurantgoer needs to hear to get the buzz going. [Bloomberg] Moira Hodgson thinks that Alex Ureña's new direction at Pamplona — modern, imaginative Spanish cookery minus the bells and whistles — is exactly what he needed and rewards him with two stars. “So this is bistro food? I don’t care what he calls it, it’s great.” [NYO]

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Wild Salmon Saved by Salmon; Borough Food and Drink Gets Bronx Cheer

As it has in so many other reviews, Wild Salmon's raison d'être saves it from getting hammered. The excellence of the title fish is no longer in question. [NYT] Related: Salmon Cured? [NYM] Borough Food and Drink meets the world of criticism with a three- (of six) star review from Randall Lane, who finds its tribute to New York’s foods redundant and “leaden.” [TONY] On Avenue Z (where else would you expect to find him?), Sietsema alights upon Temada, one of the city's few Georgian restaurants, and is entranced by their turnovers, kebabs, and French fries. [VV]

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Fette Sau and 15 East Get Strong Endorsements From the Experts

Peter Meehan gives a highly thought-out, admiring review (probably the most knowledgeable one so far) of Fette Sau, taking pain to mention the place’s few but significant shortcomings. [NYT] Related: Fette Sau’s Weird Williamsburg Barbecue Palace [Grub Street] Alan Richman, a person with highly developed opinions about sushi, thinks 15 East a great find: “If you have pricey seafood cravings without the wherewithal to finance them, I don't believe you can do better than 15 East,” he says. [Bloomberg] Frank Bruni inexplicably reviews Max Brenner: Chocolates by the Bald Man, a place that no one would ever expect to be good. Unsurprisingly, he hands them a bagel. [NYT] Related: Milking It [NYM]

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