Today, Frank Bruni awards the expected two stars to Eighty One, finding the ambitious food over-thought and over-wrought:
Maybe it’s an inevitable consequence of so many restaurants vying to be noticed. Maybe it’s an attempt to justify entrees sailing far north of $35. Maybe it’s a reflection of chefs too neurotic or vain to commit to one strategy or to dwell on one note.
Whatever the reason, the high-end New York dining scene is awash in troikas of pork, trilogies of tuna and the like. A meat that does a wholly satisfying turn as a chop, or a fish showcased adequately in a fillet, appears in many guises, as if it’s an actor doing one of those multi-part tours de force.
The spectacle is impressive to a point, but exhausting, too.
He awards points for the wine list, but subtracts them for the room:
Eighty One certainly preens. It goes so far as to title a section of the menu in which it lists spotlighted dishes the “tasting collection.”
When you see something like that, you’re less inclined to overlook a restaurant’s shortcomings. In Eighty One’s case, they include a sprawling dining room with unflattering lighting and oversize red velvet booths that look as if they were carted in from a bordello on some planet where the prostitutes are 12 feet tall.
We win $4 on our hypothetetical one-dollar bet. Eater, who had predicted three stars, loses a dollar.
Eater NYJ Bankroll $88.50 $99.67 Gain/Loss –1.00 +4.00 Total $87.50 $103.67 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Won–Lost 39–17 40–16