When we saw the new Michelin ratings on the Web, before getting ahold of the actual book, we were left scratching our heads. (Read our complaints and suggestions here.) Now that we're reading the thing, we're becoming even more confused. This is supposed to be a guidebook? The descriptions are all breezy, self-contained little blurbs which seem more like something you would read in an airplane magazine's advertorial insert than in the American edition of the oldest and most powerful restaurant guide in the world.
Steak and ssäms continue to rule the reviews with a white truffle thrown in for good measure.
• Saving Lonesome Dove for the blog, Bruni checks into another meatery, Harry's Steak. The bone-in steak "spoke to the timeless glories of aged prime beef," but the menu's saddled with "clever tweaks." [NYT]
• Andrea Strong checks in on Lonesome Dove (again) and is way more impressed with the kangaroo nachos than her boy at the Post was. [Strong Buzz]
• At STK, Alan Richman eyes the hotties "who look like they're barely past puberty" and shares in our fascination with the restrooms. "If only the food admittedly great-looking were as flavorsome as the customers." [Bloomberg]
• Dana Bowen visits Momofuku Ssäm Bar, and after raving about the late-night menu we first reported, hints that it may see the light of day. [NYT]
• As if Danny Meyer was starving for publicity, Moira Hodgson reassures us that Tabla is "one of the city's great restaurants." Something to do with chef Floyd Cardoz's new cookbook? [NYO]
• Paul Adams schools upwardly mobile I-Chin: "Going upscale involves more than buying buff-colored cloth napkins and hiring servers to assiduously refold them at every opportunity." [NYS]
• Augie splurges on a white truffle at Gotham presumably not as pricey as Morimoto's $10,500 highbrow-despicable truffle. [Augieland]
Michelin dropped its ratings bomb today, and it's safe to say that the New York restaurant world is, as usual, reeling. Though not as consequential as a Zagat snub, business-wise, the Michelin ratings are closer to the hearts of top chefs. (French chef Bernard Loiseau was widely believed to have killed himself over a Michelin downgrade.) The book is supposed to be in stores tomorrow (though our local Barnes & Noble says it's not even at the distributor yet). We do, however, know of some surprises. Messrs. Boulud, Bouley, and Takahama are no doubt having lousy afternoons.
Regina Schrambling's long L.A. Times feature on New York big-box restaurants might be a must-read for observers of the New York dining scene. Although better known as her brilliantly arch and caustic blog Gastropoda, Schrambling is a rock-solid food reporter when not in harridan mode, and she helps get to the bottom of a basic question. How, in a city where even small spaces are astronomically expensive, can it pay to open a restaurant the size of a bus terminal? The answer is volume, but the how and why of the way restaurants like Morimoto, Buddakan, and the Hawaiian Tropic Zone operate might not be immediately apparent to readers who don't know a lot about the restaurant business.
In this week's reviews, Cuozzo draws his six-shooter on Tim Love and Ted Turner, Ryan Sutton drinks the $12 bottled water at Gilt, Andrea Strong's blood boils over the pricey wines at Devin Tavern, and more.
Cuozzo to Tim Love and Ted Turner: "Welcome to New York: Now leave!" [NYP]
Ryan Sutton takes the temperature at Gilt now that the foam has cleared and finds that "if Liebrandt's cuisine was hyperactive, [new chef Christopher] Lee's is hyper-restrained." Though the grub's a bit cheaper, there's still a $12 "you just got fleeced'' fee on bottled water. [Bloomberg]
Julia Moskin visits the Morgan's dining room, the latest in arty eateries, and finds the nicest restaurant salad she's had in years. Of the beef Wellington: "Some dishes, like musicals, should never be revived." [NYT]
Paul Adams contemplates the sublime porkiness of Momofuku Ssäm Bar [NYS]
At Palo Santo, a Pan-Latin joint on a Slope side street, $25-and-Under (not the super-stingy Meehan we've been loving) unearths off-the-menu items like beef-cheek asopado. [NYT]
Reeling from "Spain's 10," Augie taps the tapas at Boqueria and finds they rock almost as hard as Jane's Addiction doing "Ripple." [Augieland]
Taking up the good fight alongside Meehan, Andrea Strong visits Devin Tavern and her blood boils over the $40-plus wine list: "This is not very tavern like. Come on." [Strong Buzz]
Ignoring the Gobbler's advice on how not to get made, the Amateur Gourmet is exposed at Country. [Amateur Gourmet]
Katie Julian weighs in on the Tasting Room and agrees with everyone else: Some dishes work (porcini topped with a fried egg and crispy pork skin), and others don't (raw matsutake-mushroom slices drizzled with "cheese-pumpkin juice"). [NYer]
BlackBook delves into Haute Barnyard at Flatbush Farm. [BlackBook]
Peter Meehan, the Times' "$25 and Under" critic, lately sounds more like the $7 and under critic. In the past three columns, he's reviewed a Korean fried chicken and beer joint and most recently, a taco stand inside a garage in Bushwick. What Meehan is doing is actually far more radical than most readers realize. Twenty-five and under was conceived as a sop to the masses, a side order to the real review's main course. And a lot of people, including new dining-section editor Pete Wells, have complained that $25 is an unrealistically low figure in this day and age. Covering ultra-ultra-cheap eats, meanwhile, seems to be Meehan's idea of progress. Here's hoping his next piece continues the trend.
How do we know Pete Wells thinks $25 is too cheap? He told us so.
In this week's review lineup, a motley crew of relative newcomers, including a noodle bar serving a kimchee-and-Spam sandwich, join some of the usual suspects, like Eleven Madison Park.
Having dissed the old-school last week, Alan Richman turns to the "epicenter of alternative dining" (the Spotted Pig, natch) but, disappointingly, fails to deliver any shockers: It's "a ridiculously cramped gastro-pub in the West Village where you suffer physically and usually eat well." [Bloomberg]
Bruni's off blogging in Italy, but Julia Moskin doesn't miss a beat dissecting Francois Payard's InTent. The crowd consists of "headbangers and headbands." The waiters "must be imported in carloads from Ann Arbor, Mich., or Madison, Wis." The wine menu has categories that "suggest personality profiles at friendster.com." And the food? "Sometimes it works beautifully, and sometimes the softness dissolves into mush." [NYT]
Eschewing the newer, trendier steaks the Daily News has been drooling over, Moira Hodgson revisits Craftsteak hoping Tom Colicchio is running a tighter ship post-Gramercy Tavern. [NYO]
Andrea Strong gets her "buzz buzzing" at Eleven Madison Park, where new chef Daniel Humm's "seductively piggy" confit, which she calls a "pig brownie," nearly makes her weep with joy. [Strong Buzz]
Checking in on Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Andrea Thompson dismisses the three-terrine sandwich lauded by our own Underground Gourmet: "Who wants to spend nine bucks on a glorified burrito bar?" [NYer]
Meanwhile, the Spam-and-kimchee Asian-Cuban sandwich at Quentin Danté's Noodle Bar has Robert Sietsema at a critical crossroads: "Some love this sandwich, while others hate it." [VV]
Checking in on the often impressive Cravings, we came across a particularly useful guide to ethnic eats in New York. There are essays on Bajan, Bosnian, Turkish, Filipino, Uighur, and Polish food, each mentioning one or two restaurants that have, for the most part, flown under the foodie radar. We learned about the potato burek rolls at Djerdan and Flying Fish Cutters at Culpepper's (1082 Nostrand Ave., at Lincoln Rd., Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 718-940-4122.) Then we browsed their lovingly written food listings and got hungry all over again.
Ethnic Eats [Cravings]
This week the fork-and-penners visited four joints where the primo grub made up for the less-than-stellar service and atmosphere.
• Bruni doles out judicious three stars to Joël Robuchon, noting that the chef's foie gras–and–Kobe beef slider ("the haute burger of the new millennium") has nice buns. [NYT]
• Meanwhile, Bruni's colleague Peter Meehan thinks he's discovered "the city's best new hamburger" at Royale, a nondescript bar on Avenue C. [NYT]
• After some throat-clearing that involves the mention of "a sex act you don't want to know about," Lauren Collins states in no uncertain terms that "you'd be crazy to want to eat" at Dirty Bird. But you should definitely get a mess of the spicy, succulent legs delivered. [NYer]
• Andrea Strong misses the "amazing haze of really good energy" at the old, smallish Tasting Room but finds redemption in "a creamy haze" of sweet potatoes. [Strong Buzz]
This week, the big boys decided to tip some sacred cows.
• Alan Richman, battling Peter Luger, delivers what might be the most damning takedown of a major New York restaurant since his famous indictment of Jean Georges in GQ. Sundry are the crimes of this tavern: It has "lost touch with the concept of restaurant hospitality"; deploys cheap flatware and snarling waiters; serves inconsistent steak, mundane sides, and a "hostile burger." [Bloomberg]
This week, the food scribes turned in more raves than rants. Naturally, we lead with a rant.
• Frank Bruni, bucking the beau monde and betting odds, comes down with both feet on Freemans, the hipster hideaway beloved by downtown boulevardiers. (NYT)