NYT Critics’ Picks: Restaurants

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At Sauvage, European Discipline Meets Gut Instinct

Roughly half of what I’ve eaten at Sauvage since it opened just before Memorial Day has been either forgettable or familiar. In the other half, though, this restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, seemed to be on to something exciting, a combination of European kitchen discipline and a gut instinct for …

Food & Dining

The Thrill of the Tabletop Grill at Tong Sam Gyup Goo Yi

The crowd is of one mind at Tong Sam Gyup Goo Yi: From every table rises a gleaming black cast-iron dome with a tapered handle, like the lid of a giant pot, and on every dome lie stripes of pork belly, more white than red, flesh nearly overrun by fat.<p>The grills are turned high. The room starts to …

Pork Belly

At Günter Seeger NY, a Star Chef Resurfaces, Confidence Intact

It’s complicated to praise someone whose confidence already seems to be reinforced with steel and clad in granite. It’s even more complicated in the case of Günter Seeger, whose confidence is the source of both his success in the kitchen and his occasional capacity for sabotaging himself in the …

Food

The Spicy Spoils of China’s Boom, at Hao Noodle and Tea

In the hedonist’s view of American immigration patterns, bad times for chefs in China are good times for dumpling chasers and noodle hunters in New York. When experienced cooks couldn’t make a living there for political or economic reasons, they came here. Conversely, over the last decade or so, …

China

Snacks of Nepal Are a High Point at Woodside Cafe in Queens

The momos are giants, fat round dumplings with furrowed peaks, rising from a pink-orange sauce the color of penne alla vodka. It tastes a little like penne alla vodka, too, oddly, inexactly and wonderfully — marinara meets tikka masala, with momos as tortelloni writ large.<p>The awning outside …

Restaurants

At Cassia in Los Angeles, Asian Food of Balance, Not Extremes

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — On my table at Cassia was a thick, black, gnarled pig tail. The menu said it was grilled, but I was ready to believe it had been incinerated in a rage, as if I had mortally insulted the chef and serving me this stick of carbon were his revenge. But the nice woman waiting on …

Restaurants

Gramercy Tavern: A Classic Still on the Move

Long before it turned 22 last month, Gramercy Tavern had settled into classic status. It is a classic, but there’s a downside to putting a restaurant in that category. The more familiar something is, the harder it is to see.<p>Like the other restaurants in Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, …

Olmsted Bets the Farm on Winning Over the Neighbors

Olmsted, a two-month-old restaurant in Brooklyn, looks innocent enough. Not much in the dining room sets it apart from any number of other new places to eat. The houseplants whose vines slink down one wall may well come from Lowe’s.<p>Toward the back is a cooking space big enough for two people; I …

Pasquale Jones Brings a Little Novelty to Little Italy

As a New Yorker who wants each neighborhood to be different, each block to be like a pocket with a secret tucked inside it, I have strongly mixed feelings about gentrification. As a critic confronted with shiny new restaurants in changing neighborhoods, though, I have to admit that I often end up …

At Dawa’s in Queens, a Fusion of Earth and Sky

The bowl of ragged-edged pork belly is a recipe from Bhutan, the meat vested with the deep sour of fermented bamboo shoots. Its flavor hints at turned earth or wood broken down by rain, a funk wonderfully, perilously close to rot.<p>Beside it is risotto, arborio rice gone cloudy and fat in white wine …

At Mimi, French Food Is a Celebration of Appetite

It took three dinners at Mimi before I saw the restaurant that had other people so excited.<p>Mimi barely ruffled the waters of the crowded pond of New York dining when it materialized on a quiet Greenwich Village block last fall. The partners had never owned a restaurant before. The chef, Liz …

New York City

Burmese Food in New York: Hard to Find but Easy to Love

For nearly two decades, the only place to find Myo Lin Thway’s palata was the once-a-year Myanmar Baptist Church Fun Fair in Queens.<p>This is the story of Burmese food in New York City: a thwarted quest. Few restaurants here have ever fully dedicated themselves to the cuisine, and only one — Cafe …

At Nix, Vegetables Get a Dash of Sex

There’s a lot of heavy eye contact going on at this restaurant. One of the most strenuous competitors is a guy at the next table who’s staring down the woman across from him while giving her a ferocious, what-big-teeth-you-have grin. I’d call his expression carnivorous, but we’re at Nix, and …

Restaurants

Freek’s Mill Spins Romance Near a Superfund Site

Standing on a drawbridge one night early this month, a man and a woman stood close and kissed, blind to everything around them, even the motionless toxic porridge of the Gowanus Canal below their feet. About to cross the span, I stopped to give them their space. The Union Street Bridge in Brooklyn …

Food & Dining

The Crabby Shack, a Shrine to the Crustacean

The sign outside this low-slung storefront no longer says Tabernacle of God’s Glory Church, but the place is still a kind of temple.<p>Heads bow over plastic bags fogged with steam, cradled in blue gingham paper. Inside may be skinny marionette legs of Alaskan snow crab, looking as if they’re on the …

Crustaceans

Poultry Has a Pedigree at Le Coq Rico

I’m almost always the one who gets the chicken.<p>For review meals, I try to let my guests choose their own food. Then I pick something nobody else wants. Often, this is the chicken. I think this can be explained by a remark a friend made recently. “I never eat chicken in restaurants,” he said. “I can …

Food
Restaurants
Restaurants

West Africa Enlivens the South Bronx, at Nabaya

Although the restaurant is open, the blinds are barely turned, the gold-seamed curtains drawn. It’s been like this since 2008, when Aissata Kaba, a native of Guinea, took over this corner storefront across from an overgrown lot in the South Bronx that is still waiting for the city to make it a park.<p>…

Chicago
Restaurants

At King of Falafel, the Crown Jewels Are Chickpeas

King of Falafel & Shawarma is a bold, throw-down-the-gauntlet title for what started out as a lone street cart in the shadow of the elevated train in Astoria, Queens. It might suggest hubris if it weren’t so well earned.<p>The magnanimous monarch and chef is Fares Zeideia, known as Freddy, who for 14 …

Falafel

A Meal (and History) in a Box at Taiwan Bear House

Pell Street these days is two quiet blocks, no more, but Chinatown was born here, where Doyers Street dead-ends into Pell, where tour guides still talk of tongs and mah-jongg.<p>At night, on Pell’s eastern end, pilgrims queue for soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai. They may not notice Taiwan Bear House, …

Taiwan

Looks Aren’t Everything at Café Altro Paradiso

Over the 11 or so weeks Café Altro Paradiso has been open, I’ve taken some photographs that are as awful as the food is good.<p>The restaurant’s carpaccio is simple and marvelous, a single piece of raw bison pounded so thin that when it is laid over small, newly fried potato chips and a mound of …

Restaurants

Angela’s Takes a Return Trip to the Caribbean

The bread is called bake, although it is fried and never sees the inside of an oven. Angela Pellew-Whyte, a native of Guyana and the chef at Angela’s in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, boosts the traditionally simple dough with a fingertip’s worth of sugar, nutmeg and yeast so it puffs up on the …

Caribbean

A World of Flavor, Stuffed Into Tacos at El Molcajete

At El Molcajete, the tacos look like bouquets, brimming with cilantro, loosely bundled in paper sleeves twisted tight at one end and gaping at the mouth. They are heavy with meat: hanks of shredded barbacoa, dark and caramelly cecina, cabeza more a stage of melt than flesh.<p>Then there is suadero, a …

Tacos

The Best Comes in a Bun at Salvation Burger and Spotted Pig

April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s newest restaurant, inside the Pod 51 Hotel on East 51st Street, is called Salvation Burger. I can’t say that the first word of the name filled me with hope. The last time this chef and her business partner offered us salvation in a Pod hotel, they gave us …

Food & Dining

Bite of Hong Kong Requires More Than a Few Nibbles

The fish rise and fall in their wall of tanks. The crabs crouch like linebackers and tap their Morse code. “Choose,” you are told.<p>At Bite of Hong Kong, a Cantonese restaurant that opened in Chinatown last spring, the trappings are classic: great round banquet tables draped in red tablecloths, lazy …

Hong Kong

The Laws of Tuscan Eating at I Sodi in the West Village

Medium-rare is how I ordered my tagliata, a grilled sirloin that is, like almost everything else at I Sodi, prepared the way it would be in Tuscany. Right away I changed my mind and asked for it rare. I wanted the sliding smoothness of nearly raw beef.<p>The server thought I had it right the first …

West Village

A Midas of Meat at BK Jani in Bushwick

Here comes rack of lamb, fat chops in a ring with the bones jutting off the plate like sun rays. It is luxury, this great wheel of shining meat, crazed with its own juices and tasting of smoke made flesh.<p>Never mind that it’s served on a paper plate, without a knife or fork. Remember your animal …

Meat