Today, Sam Sifton dropped a surprisingly harsh goose-egg on Choptank. Despite liking many dishes, he found the food highly uneven and unfaithful to its Chesapeake namesake:
Choptank the restaurant opened this winter on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, taking the watershed as its muse and Baltimore as its butler. The restaurant evokes the Chesapeake region in the way that dorm rooms at Johns Hopkins do: Duck Head khakis in the dresser and lacrosse sticks leaning against the desk, postcards from Rehoboth Beach tacked to the wall along with the covering board from grandfather’s sloop, a thrift-store oil painting, sconces from mom.
So there ain’t no pit beef here, hon. Too low-class. No steamed crabs on paper tablecloths, either. (Though they say come summer.) You can’t buy a can of Natty Boh beer. (The company doesn’t distribute up north.) There is a fine Ostrowski’s Polish sausage sitting with its pretzel brother on a plate, garlicky as a Pigtown housewife, but there is no John Waters to Choptank, much less Avon Barksdale or Stringer Bell. The restaurant’s vibe is suburban, as safe as Cal Ripken.
The food is to match, especially among the appetizers: crab dip out of a Junior League cookbook, with potato chips russet with Old Bay seasoning, all celery salt and heat; church-supper Virginia ham, with biscuits that taste morning-made and midday-refrigerated.
We liked Choptank better than Sifton did, but he paid more visits and sampled more of the menu. We agree that if it’s that uneven, zero stars is the correct rating. We are surprised, however, that he bothered to waste a a review on a place he considered so unimportant. Whatever.
We and Eater both lose a dollar on our hypothetical bets.
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Life-to-date, New York Journal is 79–34 (70%).