Today, the Sam Sifton era began with a two-star review of Daniel Boulud’s DBGB:
A cynic would call this fashion and scoff. But one bite of the crispy lamb ribs that were served in the bar area when the place first opened — sweetly glazed, grassy meat, with a dab of creamy mint-flecked yogurt sauce — ended all snark: Mr. Boulud has opened a very good restaurant. The lamb was sublime, earthy and spicy and rich, evidence of superb technique, the sort of snack that separates his empire from others in the celebrity firmament.
Recent visits to all five of Mr. Boulud’s New York restaurants suggest: his kitchens put out perfectly cooked food. Diners may quibble here and there (with the sweetened cucumber juice in the Hendrick’s gin cocktail at Daniel, for instance), but rare is the complaint about technique. Jim Leiken, DBGB’s executive chef, a young veteran of Daniel and DB Bistro Moderne, is no exception. His food game, as they say in rap precincts, is tight.
What do we want from a review, anyway? Entertaining? Check. Relevant—that is, not self-indulgent? Check. Well informed? Check. Accurate? I can’t tell. Sifton liked the place a tad better than we did two months ago, and better than most other critics did. But two months in the life of a four-month-old restaurant is a long time.
It will take many more reviews before we can say whether we trust Sifton’s verdicts. We suspect, however, that we will much enjoy reading them. We are delighted that he can write a robust paragraph. We recall—not with fondness—Bruni reviews with a dozen or more one-sentence grafs in a row.
With the return of the Eater odds, we are now resetting the score to zero (as we had promised) and resuming our weekly guessing game with Ben Leventhal, with a hypothetical one-dollar bet on the line. Both we and Leventhal believed that DBGB would get a star, so we both lose a dollar.
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Life-to-date, New York Journal is 70–26 (73%).