Table, Donkey and Stick falls into the trap of over-romanticizing the "stereotypes of the dreary, heavy food" of the peasantry according to Mike Sula. A lineup of "excellent" preserved meats that are "among the most beautifully arranged in town" includes blood-red smoked venison tenderloin with cherry mostarda, coins of blood sausage, and sheets of stuffed pheasant galantine seasoned with coffee and fennel. A bowl of maultaschen with the "smothering richness" of polenta and sharp Gorgonzola offset by a garnish of pickled red pepper is also worthwhile, as is the "mutant, Dali-esque" soft pretzel worked with pork fat. But the rest of the menu is "uneven in execution" with dishes like a "wet, swampy mess" of a skillet that features "irregular" sheets of buckwheat pasta, "undercooked" potato and gooey Talegggio; "dull, gray" turnip soup; and a "gluey smoked" whitefish and white bean salad. Desserts are also at odds: a rectangle of apple pudding "could have been pulled from a Starbucks display case" but a cup of hot cocoa spiked with green chartreuse and topped with marshmallow and tarragon powder may be "one of the best desserts [Sula's] ever drunk." [Reader]
Julia Kramer thinks The Boarding House lacks the personality to match up to Alpana Singh's vision. Virginia oysters are served with sauces that "muck up" the dish while "oily" crispy cumin cauliflower comes with "overly thick" yogurt and a "dull" pesto. Housemade linguine is "heavy, greasy and salty" with "even saltier" coins of housemade sausage while lobster poutine is "practically dry." Even the desserts are "middling, lifeless, patisserie-like confections that feel straight out of pastry school." It's not all bad though as a few dishes fare better such as the "smooth and dimensional" chicken-liver mousse and the Chicken Three Ways' "beautifully browned" roasted chicken-breast roulade.
The jury's still out on Bub City, writes David Tamarkin. The "sparkling-fresh" seafood platter is a "crazy-good" value at $25 and banana cream and chocolate-peanut butter pies are impeccable. There's "decent" barbecue to be had but there are also "middling renditions" of pulled pork and brisket and "rubbery" ribs. The cocktail list is also "impressive" and "executed deftly" by slammed bartenders. In the end, Tamarkin thinks diners will have to decide whether the food and drinks are worth "crushing crowds and a cloying shtick." [TOC]
Phil Vettel continues his streak of four-star dining with a trip to Grace. Taste buds are "properly awakened" at the start by a quartet of fruit-based canapés followed by a "parade of delights" that includes a study of parsnip puree and gelee that's "as delicate as the glass boomerang bowl that holds it," and a root-to-sprout carrot composition. On the vegetable menu, pan-roasted and grill-finished maiktakes with coffee-infused potato puree "mimic the effect of a meat-and-potatoes entrée" while on the meat side the barely poached salmon is "so refined it feels like a dish you'd be served in Irish heaven." Desserts are "all so delightful" such as a chocolate sphere filled with liquid caramelized popcorn, and noodles of young coconut flesh and coconut-water gelee with "vivid" basil sorbet, basil-laced financier cake and African blue basil. It's a meal that's "Very. Very. Good." [Tribune]
The hype surrounding Billy Sunday is well-deserved. Kate Bernot writes that all of the drinks, especially the In Word & Deed, are "nuanced, but mostly, they're just delicious," and The Kent is simply "the best damn [Gin & Tonic]" she's had in recent memory. Likewise, the food menu is "deliciously simple" with items such as a fresh, herbal tomato spread, "creamy, perfectly salted" rabbit pot pie, and three "gooey" PB&J doughnut holes. With "well-priced and well-made drinks," Bernot thinks Billy Sunday will be a hot attraction. [RedEye]