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Paul Adams

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One Star and Thirteen Recommended Dishes for Centro Vinoteca; BLT Market Takes Its Lumps

Another somewhat capricious Frank Bruni review: He gives Centro Vinoteca one star, praising nearly everything he ate (there are thirteen recommended dishes) but complaining about the noise and crowds on the first floor and presumably on that basis withholding a second star. [NYT] Danyelle Freeman is so not impressed with BLT Market. According to her, the ingredients themselves aren’t even that good! But she likes the place enough to give it two stars anyway. [NYDN] The usually harder-to-please Alan Richman, on the other hand, had a much higher estimation of the place, except for the part about it smelling like shit. But that, he hopes, will pass with the warm weather. [Bloomberg]

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Kudos to Park Avenue Autumn; Jeers to the Five Guys

Park Avenue Autumn's gimmicky concept might have turned Frank Bruni catty but for the fact that Craig Konketsu's cooking is so flawlessly brilliant. The place got two stars, and the review reads like three. [NYT] Paul Adams must be a happy man today just for the headline he came up with for his positive review of the cheese-centric newcomer Casellula: “The Cheese Stands Alone.” It sounds like it does, too, with what might be the best macaroni and cheese going. [NYS] Peter Meehan puts the Five Guys, and their deliberately dried-out, overrated burger, in their place; Julia Moskin gives Market Table its first praise, a measured and thoughtful mini-review. [NYT]

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Wakiya Earns a Second Bagel; Meehan Mistreated at BarFry

Wakiya's brief flirtation with the possibility of success seems to be over, now that Frank Bruni has concurred with Adam Platt by handing the restaurant what seems to be a well-deserved bagel. How long before it goes down for the dirt nap is anybody's guess. [NYT] Alan Richman, by the way, hates the place even worse. You don't even have to look beyond his subheads: “Preening.” “Small Portions.” “Incomprehensible Menu.” The bottom line? The place is wildly expensive and “Wakiya suffers from an absence of delights.” To say the least. [Bloomberg] Peter Meehan, though taking care to praise Josh DeChellis's cold dishes, had what sounds like a series of awful experiences at BarFry, with terrible service issues. Talk about picking the wrong guy to leave stranded with bottles in his hands! [NYT]

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Bruni Finds Bar Stuzzichini Good Enough; Sietsema Worships Insieme

Frank Bruni gives Bar Stuzzichini one star, praising its small plates (which give him his obligatory Zeitgeist paragraphs at the top) and then pointing out that the room and service are basically that of a “midtown mess hall.” The moral? Aim low, price right, and execute, and the critics will give you the guarded praise you need to stay open. [NYT] Here's one we never would have predicted in a million years: Insieme getting the panegyric it deserves from Robert “horsehead soup in the Bronx” Sietsema. Interestingly, the one thing he didn't like was the lasagne, which was the place's proudest boast when it first opened. [VV] We predicted recently that it was just a matter of time before someone came down on Wakiya, but we never dreamed it would be Danyelle Freeman. She hits the place hard, mostly for the “dull” and “skimpy” food but, not a killer at heart, gives them credit for service, cocktails, and soup dumplings. But it won't be long before another, meaner critic really lets it fly. [NYND]

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Franny’s Gets the All-Purpose Two Stars; Southern Hospitality Praised for Its BBQ

Franny’s is the recipient of one of Frank Bruni’s periodic low-end caprices, and gets awarded an absurd two stars as a result. [NYT] Paul Lukas, a pretty serious student of barbecue, delivers the verdict on the new barbecues, and the surprise is that Southern Hospitality has some pretty damn good Memphis ribs. Hill Country, it goes without saying, gets lauded as the best BBQ in town. [NYS] Related: Insatiable Critic: Southern Hospitality “Rivulets of delicious grease are a common theme” is the key note to Paul Adams's review of Borough Food and Drink. Mmmm…grease…. [NYS]

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Cuozzo Likes Wakiya; Bruni, Platt Agree on Rayuela

Steve Cuozzo bucks the early bad buzz on Wakiya, praising the place but cautioning that the chef will only be around one week a month. [NYP] Related: We Catch Wakiya’s First Guests on the Street Alan Richman submits a rare rave review for Soto, saying of its hot dishes “not one was less than wonderful. This is cooked food on a par with the most ingenious in New York.” Soto-san has to be pretty happy with that. [Bloomberg] Restaurant Girl’s debut in the Daily News takes the form of a mixed review on Gemma: She liked the branzino and the atmosphere, the other dishes not so much. Nothing in the write-up suggests that they were unduly influenced by knowing who she was. [NYDN] Related: Restaurant Girl Has a Face For Reviewing

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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]

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Suba Called ‘Dazzling’; Shopsin's Called...Shopsin's

Suba, Boqueria’s ambitious sister restaurant, gets two stars from Frank Bruni, who goes so far as to say “the best of the food here is distinctive and exciting. In a few instances it’s even dazzling.” Suba, underbuzzed and on a bad block, needed a big boost and got it. [NYT] Randall Lane isn’t impressed with the East Village Yacht Club, or for that matter Smith and Mills. Two stars out of six, and it sounds like they were lucky to get that. [TONY] Peter Meehan’s review of the new Shopsin’s begins with his best lede ever: “Tolstoy had it wrong about happy families, because there are none like the Shopsins.” The food, though beside the point, sounds about as good as before. [NYT] Related: A Taste of Kenny Shopsin

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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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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]

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P*ONG Found to Be Small and Uneven; Monkey Bar Gets Hammered

Frank Bruni appreciates Pichet Ong’s skill and creativity but finds his restaurant, P*ONG, in what will probably be a defining review, unequal to his talent: “Mr. Ong is an enterprising cook, but he doesn’t seem to be a seasoned restaurateur, and P*ong points out the difference.” [NYT] Similarly, Paul Adams grants that FR.OG chef Didier Virot has “has a virtuosic ability with flavors,” but was less than thrilled with the restaurant. That’s about in keeping with most other reviews the place has had, which call out a few dishes but give it an “eh” otherwise. [NYS] Randall Lane disliked the Monkey Bar so much that it’s amazing that he gave it two stars (out of six). “More often, though, the dishes were so unsuccessful that I had difficulty finishing them.” Eek. Not what you want to hear after a huge, expensive relaunch.[TONY]

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Hill Country Triumphs; Perilla Gets Measured Praise, Three Times Over

Peter Meehan hails Hill Country as the barbecue to beat in New York, at least as far as beef is concerned: “[The deckle brisket] is a thing of balance and of beauty.” [NYT] As much as Meehan liked the place, Steve Cuozzo may like it even more, not hesitating to crown it New York’s best: “Lots of New York places now claim to have ‘real’ barbecue, and some truly do. But until they catch up with Hill Country, they’re just blowing smoke.” [NYP] 15 East feels the glow of two-star approval, especially for its star octopus. Ushiwakamaru, though not as good, is cheaper, and that’s worth something. [NYT]

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Landmarc Steals More Stars; Mercat Earns First Kudos

Frank Bruni inexplicably grants a star to a restaurant with zero ambience, overdone pastas, “tame entrées,” and a “loud” room that’s “dreary at night.” Which is what Adam Platt and everybody else said about Landmarc TWC, though without granting a star for the accomplishment. [NYT] Related: Off the Mark [NYM] Landmarc somehow coaxed three of six stars out of Randall Lane, despite comparable comments on uneven food and a room filled with rebars. The wine list seems to have been the saving grace. [TONY] Mobbed Mercat gets the Paul Adams seal of approval, its first major positive review, which compares it favorably to Boqueria and praises it for special authenticity. Only the desserts are denied praise, and at that point in the review, it hardly matters. [NYS]

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Insieme Just Misses; One Big Up and One ‘Eh’ for P*ONG

Insieme’s bid for a third star went about the same way as Anthos’: two stars from Platt, then two stars from Bruni. [NYT] Related: Italian, Old and New [NYM] Randall Lane gives five of Time Out New York’s six stars to P*ONG. It’s the first major review the place has gotten, and more than enough to make up for getting dissed by the Sun. [TONY] Paul Adams, in the Sun, finds Pichet Ong’s creations irritatingly twee and precious, except for the desserts upon which the chef’s reputation is built. Adams puts his finger on the problem: “The same creativity that in the earlier courses gives rise to confusing, unsatisfying combinations is more successful when the unifying power of sugar is involved.” [NYS]

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Insieme Lauded (Except for Lasagne); Landmarc Squeaks By

The Times finds Provence beautiful, romantic, and well-intentioned, but barely worthy of a single star. A major disappointment for the Marc Meyer/Vicki Freeman team, who had been on a roll with Five Points and Cookshop. [NYT] In the Post, Steve Cuozzo — judiciously taking the long-term view as usual — makes the case that Amalia, FR.OG, and Insieme, “the best new Italian restaurant since L’Impero,” have overcome weak starts to become some of the city’s strongest places. [NYP] Paul Adams gives yet another admiring review to Insieme, though he found the much-praised lasagne underflavored and disappointing. His favorite dish: a chamomile farfalle. [NYS]

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Gramercy Keeps Its Third Star; Randall Lane Trips But Likes Insieme Anyway

Frank Bruni joins Adam Platt in giving Gramercy Tavern three stars, validating the efforts of new chef Michael Anthony and the usual Danny Meyer service level. [NYT] Related: Gramercy Rehab [NYM] Time Out’s Randall Lane likes Insieme a lot, to the tune of four (out of six) stars. Though he praises the food as most reviewers have, he also agrees with them that although it was beautifully executed, it didn’t make him swoon. Also, he tripped on the step coming in. [TONY] The Sun’s Paul Adams comes down on Landmarc, “less a dining destination and more a hearty refueling station for ravenous shoppers and tourists.” But it’s affordable and competent, and what else do you want in a mall restaurant? [NYS] Related: Will Landmarc’s Downtown Cool Play Alongside Its Ritzy New Neighbors? [Grub Street]

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Cuozzo Hammers the Shake Shack; Much Hodgson Love for Insieme

Steve Cuozzo uses his bully pulpit in the Post to come down hard on the Shake Shack, calling the place out for insanely long lines and “a hamburger that’s an also-ran at best.” [NYP] Related: Kyle Dureau Wants Shake Shack to Be Open 24/7 As Much As You Do [Grub Street] Having weathered a major two-star review by Adam Platt, Insieme finally gets its first three-star one, from Moira Hodgson, who is impressed by how perfectly executed every dish is, lavishing special praise on one of the place’s more overlooked features, co-owner Paul Grieco’s wine list. [NYO] Related: Italian, Old and New [NYM] The Times gives Katz’s the full Frank Bruni treatment, and the place comes out of it with one star, much loving description, and an eerie semi-confirmation of our earlier report that the place might be sold. [NYT] Related: Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Katz’s? [Grub Street]

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Richman Lambastes Landmarc; Has Sietsema Lost His Mind?

Robert Sietsema reviews what might be the most un-Sietsema-like place imaginable, a twee Williamsburg bistro called Juliette. “The snails in anise butter are fab, and so is the whole steamed artichoke flaunting a festive champagne vinaigrette.” Okay, call the FBI. The real Robert Sietsema has obviously been kidnapped. [VV] “Think too much and you'll find the place hard to like”: Alan Richman sees the new Landmarc for what it is – a stark, expensive, underachieving restaurant with few niceties of service or cooking – but still manages to find something nice to say about the steaks. [Bloomberg] Related: Will Landmarc's Downtown Cool Play Alongside Its Ritzy New Neighbors? [Grub Street] Frank Bruni had a high old time at Resto, so much so that he gave the place a shocking two stars. Expect all future reviews to react to this hyperbole by taking pains to note the place’s shortcomings.[NYT] Related: Brussels Sprout [NYM]

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Anthos Misses Its Mark; Provence’s First Rave

Unlike Adam Platt, who thought Anthos inferior to Dona, Frank Bruni likes it better; he seems almost pained to have to deny the place a third star. But the drab room and overwhelmed fish keep Michael Psilakis’s dream of a three-star Greek restaurant from coming true — yet. [NYT] Related: Greek Revival [NYM] Time Out’s Randall Lane hits Williamsburg BBQ Fette Sau and is struck by how good some of the meats are, and how unbelievably bad the sauce is. That’s pretty much in keeping with what everybody else has said, but Lane is the first to make much-needed points about the effect of keeping pulled pork exposed in a chafing tray, and how ill-fit pork belly is for the smoke treatment. [TONY] Related: Fette Sau's Weird Williamsburg Barbecue Palace [Grub Street] Moira Hodgson’s rave makes the relaunched Provence sound really, really good — a great omen for their future critical reception. The old Provence was good, but neither the service nor the food was on a level you would want to face a battery of critics with. [NYO]

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Wild Salmon Starts Its Upstream Journey Strongly; Craftsteak Upgraded

Alan Richman has a few qualms about Wild Salmon – its reason for being, for example – but likes both the food (except for the sauces) and the service (when it’s not too friendly). Given how ready Richman is to knock restaurants, owner Jeffrey Chodorow has to feel pretty good about this one. [Bloomberg] Related: Wild Salmon Swims Into View. Yes, ‘Pun Intended’ [Grub Street] The newly revamped Craftsteak and Craftbar get rereviewed by Bruni, who awards the less than the white-hot former a much-needed second star, and the latter, “more or less back on track” after earlier troubles, a (borderline) single star. [NYT] Time Out’s Randall Lane lays four stars (out of six) on Gilt, finding Chris Lee’s cooking admirable all around, if less risky than that of his predecessor, Paul Liebrandt, who still keeps popping up whenever the restaurant is discussed. [TONY] Related: Gramercy Rehab [NYM]

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