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Review Recap: The Mark by Jean-Georges

Apparently, when an absentee chef opens a mediocre restaurant in a neighborhood accustomed to mediocrity, he gets two stars. That is the lesson of Sam Sifton’s review in today’s Times:

Mr. Vongerichten himself has been present, on and off, standing by the passage to the kitchen, his hands clasped in front of his waist, dressed in crisp kitchen whites. What he sees before him surely matches the prospectus he offered the newly renovated hotel: a neighborhood restaurant for a neighborhood sorely lacking in neighborhood restaurants, with the prospect of hotel guests as insurance against those periods when the neighborhood is in Palm Beach or Paris, Nantucket or Gstaad…

The menu at the Mark is a smart hedge against the possibility that his inattention would lead to a drop-off in quality there. It is so unambitious that it is difficult to fumble, at least as long as Pierre Schutz, a loyal Vongerichten lieutenant for decades who serves as the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, is there to keep a close eye on the plates…

Mr. Vongerichten’s great genius used to be how he used the spare aesthetics of Asian cooking to improve classical French cuisine. Then it became how he used the lessons of that experience to raid other larders, and to create steakhouses and street-food emporia, Japanese noodle bars and market-driven French bistros.

Now he opens hotel restaurants all over the world. This one is hardly a risk. But it is a welcome addition to the Upper East Side.

I wouldn’t really have an issue with the rating, if it wasn’t the identical rating awarded to a vastly better restastaurant, SHO Shaun Hergatt, a week ago.

Instead, Sifton just gives the impression that he is just a star-struck amateur.

Reader Comments (1)

I wouldn’t really have an issue for the rating, if it wasn’t the identical rating awarded to a vastly better restastaurant, SHO Shaun Hergatt, a week ago.

Yep--reading the two reviews together, you see that The Mark has much more uneven execution of a much less interesting menu (and isn't cheap), and yet gets the same rating? Huh?

April 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lemieux

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