Archive for the ‘Overrated Foodie Finds’ Category

Expensive Attitude: 5 Worst in Yorkville and Environs:

December 7, 2006

The motto of Yorkville, we’re boring, but we’re nice, not we’re boring, boorish and snotty.

1) Elaine’s: Maybe once a haven for starving artists. Now a crusty club for B-listers with Disco attitude. It’s Le Cirque-lite. Mediocre food, brushoff at the door and elastic pricing are holy trinity of kissoffs. Rarely felt worse walking in or out of a restaurant.

2) Elio’s: A WASPy Elaine’s with better food and almost as much attitude. Greenwich on 2nd Avenue. Dismay at the door if you’re unknown. Prices too high, service from another century, but there’s some pleasure on the plate.

3) Café Boulud: Tweedy, but really nice tweed. Experiences vary; mine was horrendous. Had absolute worst high-end meal of my life here. Not rich nor masochistic enough to put up with long wait in lobby, cramped table next to host station and incredibly erratic pacing provided by impossibly arrogant servers. Only time I’ve ever written a restaurant without receiving a response, twice. Manager wouldn’t even give mailing address over the phone: Now that’s attitude.

4) Sfoglia: Spigolo’s without the love. Why go when consistent food and kinder cooks are so close by? Try Uva if Spigolo and Etats-Unis are too crowded.

5) La Tour: Wine poured to the rim with speed and dedication of a fraternity hell week challenge. Reds served inexcusably warm (all wine is virtually mulled). Occasional success on the plate (tarte tatin was good every fourth visit) marred by upselling, beverage service lapses and stew-meat steaks.

5 Most Overrated Restaurants in New York

December 1, 2006

1) Grand Central Oyster Bar: Don’t buy the nostalgic mash note reviews!

Table service is mid-market museum quality; food to match.

The raw oysters are inconsistent at best, especially at the start of a long weekend when they get rid of what they should have already thrown away.

Even the no brainer pan roast is way too rich. It’s a dairy disaster, cream without a purpose, a flavorless heart attack waiting to finish off the job begun by the raw oysters.

In a city filled with wonderful seafood restaurants in tight competition for great ingredients (Pearl Oyster, Masa, Esca, etc.), Grand Central is a horrendous and potentially dangerous place to dine.

2) Sushi Seki: Sky-high prices, cramped tables, cheap decor and expensive wine and sake lists with no middle ground (like Starbucks starting with “tall” size and Domino’s with “medium”). The fish is fine but not for what it costs, nor for the rush to turn tables. You don’t feel like they’re on your side, except when they hold the door on the way out.

3) Tía Pol: Not Spanish enough for virtual gastro-travel, not tasty enough for a visit on its own merits. I know it’s hard to replicate a real tapas/pintxos experience in the States, i.e., toothpicks, honor system and a filthy napkin-strewn floor, but this place trades on an authenticity it doesn’t offer. Sherry list is impressive, but where’s the orujo for the digestivo crowd? Casa Mono and Bar Jamón get it right.

4) Etats-Unis: Guide Michelin and NY Times, the Upper East Side doesn’t need your charity. This place is fine but not fine dining. Please don’t tell us otherwise. Like its country cousin River Tavern, Etats-Unis is stuck in Northern California circa-1985. Perfectly adequate for a Tuesday dinner, it’s by no means a destination. Yes, the area lacks upper-mid dining depth, but please let’s not fake it by reviewing a reality we’d like to exist. Spigolo is a much better bet.

5) Atelier Joël Robuchon. There is no fine dining without fine service. This is gourmet takeout with dressed up delivery men.