Franktastic heads out to Brooklyn this week to file on the Prospect Heights gem James, giving it a solid one star. He seems utterly charmed by the place, spending a large chunk of his word count on the back story of the owners (picky eater Britney Spears drove one from catering photo shoots into the restaurant biz) and the renovation of the space. However, he does have a word or two about the food:
"James is a Mom-and-Pop operation for the Alice Waters era, giving locavores sage, basil, oregano and rosemary they can feel especially virtuous about.
It’s also an example of how quietly sophisticated the food at restaurants fashioned as affordable neighborhood bistros has become. No bigger, brasher restaurant around town served me an heirloom tomato salad this summer that I enjoyed any more than one at James...he combines flavors sensibly, and he doesn’t lose sight of a dish’s centerpiece attraction."
The Brunz mentions a few misses (the sweetbreads, the fettuccine), isn't wowed by the wine list, but of course gives them points for stocking a full bar: "Vice linking arms with virtue: that’s a partnership we can all surely toast." [NYT]
Jay Cheshes is one of the first critics to file on Franklin Becker's work at Sheridan Square, and he only grants it two out of six stars: "...by the time I checked in on Becker a month into his run, the dining room felt like it was hosting a wake—sad and poorly attended but with plenty to eat and drink...The space has little personality, and Becker’s eclectic menu doesn’t offer much help in deciphering what this place is about." [TONY]
Ryan Sutton sees how power lunch spot Lever House is doing during the financial crisis. He finds everything expensive, but most of it good: "A palm-size lobster sandwich costs $38. The delicate crustacean seems to dissolve in your mouth like cotton candy. An oven-cured tomato sweetens the meat; bacon tempura lends a hint of smoke. It's ridiculously expensive, but what other venue offers a BLT this good?" [Bloomberg]
The RG visits "Flatiron West's" new chef-driven spot Alegretti and gives it three stars. She just wishes she could be a regular: "There's a lot of pleasure in trying a new dish every night, but there's something to be said for eating the same thing over and over again. In a place you can count on. Allegretti might just be that kind of place...This Niçois ravioli is upscale, yet accessible. That's Allegretti in a nutshell." [NYDN]
In Platt's stead the Robs file on Williamsburg's Mexican street food-centric phenom La Superior, giving it three UG stars: "Judging by its name, La Superior has a pretty high opinion of itself, and on the basis of the cheap and delicious snackathons the U.G. enjoyed there recently, we’d have to say it’s well deserved...What counts most is the toothsomeness of the griddled corn masa, the piquancy of the salsas, and the tenderness of the pork in the cochinita pibil. On these fronts, La Superior excels..." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Paul Adams also takes a stab at Sheridan Sqaure, liking the food but not the service, Ligaya Misham files a $25 and Under on Cambodian Cuisine and Kampuchea, Sietsema heads out to Jackson Heights for Delhi Heights, Gael Green is blown away by the paella at Socarrat, and Tables for Two has a rave for The General Greene's burger.
THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives Square Meal a B+, Goodies First has some burnt pie at South Brooklyn Pizza, the Pink Pig has some hits and misses at the South African Braai, eateryROW realizes Apizz can't live up to the hype, and Salli Vates is unimpressed with 9th Ave's Nizza.