Entries in Kin Shop (2)


NYC's Top Ten New Restaurants of 2010

’Tis the season when food writers sum up a year’s worth of dining, so here are my top ten new restaurants of 2010.

It was not a great year. No new restaurant earned three or four stars on our rating scale, although two came close: Millesime and Tamarind Tribeca. Sam Sifton of the Times awarded three stars to just one new place, Colicchio & Sons, but most critics (including me) found it disappointing. There is no “almost” in Timesspeak, but it did not appear that Sifton came even close to awarding three stars to any other new restaurant.

This does not mean that we ate badly, only that our best meals in new restaurants were at the lower end of the dining spectrum. This isn’t really surprising. Restaurants generally have six to eighteen-month planning cycles. If you’d been planning a new place in 2008 or 2009, how ambitious would you have been?

I’ve ordered the restaurants based on my dining experiences, which in most cases was one visit. Unlike the pro critics, I’m spending my own money. If I am disappointed, I’m not going to go back a second or third time, just to see if it was a fluke. Even when I like a place, I often don’t have the time or money to go back right away.

Some of the restaurants listed below actually opened in late 2009. I’ve included them if my first (or only) visit was in calendar year 2010.

1. Millesime. Chef Laurent Manrique returns to NYC (he was here in the ’90s), having won two Michelin stars in San Francisco. This classic French seafood brasserie doesn’t soar quite as high as that, but it was the best meal we had this year in a new restaurant. In our book, the food was three stars, though the service had some catching up to do. P.S. The downstairs “salon” is pretty good, too.

2. The Breslin. We adore the Breslin. Chef April Bloomfield’s fat-forward menu won’t be to all tastes, and it could be downright artery-clogging if we ate like this every day, but the chef doesn’t pander, and everything she does is impeccably prepared. They have a great lamb burger, and it’s great for breakfast too.

3. Tamarind Tribeca. This big-box Indian restaurant was the sleeper hit of 2010. We never imagined it would be this good. I gave it 2½ stars, but looking back, I am not sure why it didn’t get three. Of course, we sampled only a sliver of the menu, but what we had was flawless.

4. ABC Kitchen. Jean-Georges Vongerichten entered the farm-to-table game with a splash. Who’d have expected a restaurant in a home furnishings store to be this successful? JGV’s restaurants are notorious for quickly turning mediocre, after the attention-deficit chef wanders off to his next project. But if Chef Dan Kluger sticks around, ABC Kitchen could stay relevant for a long time. But good luck getting a last-minute reservation: the place is perpetually packed.

5. Ciano. Chef Shea Gallante (ex-Cru) returns to New York with a wonderful (if expensive) Italian restaurant, with a terrific wine list that allows most bottles to be ordered by the half. We would have rated this one higher, but one of our entrées was a dud (over-priced, under-cooked lamb chops).

6. Kin Shop. The year’s best Thai restaurant comes from an American, Top Chef alumnus Harold Dieterle. Not quite authentic, but clearly inspired by Thailand, the menu has both hits and misses, but the former are very good indeed.

7. Osteria Morini. Chef Michael White’s first casual Italian restaurant is dedicated to the hearty cuisine of Emilia-Romagna. Some of the dishes may seem over-bearing and unsubtle, but we liked just about everything we tried, even if the soundtrack is too loud and the paper napkins too cheap for the prices White is charging.

8. Manzo. If we were judging the food alone, we’d rate Mario Batali’s temple of Italian beef higher, but it’s smack dab in the middle of the city’s most crowded supermarket, Eataly. It is awfully expensive, for a space that is so unpleasant.

9. Riverpark. This is a “Tom Colicchio restaurant” that doesn’t charge Tom Colicchio prices. His former sandwich guy, Sisha Ortuzar, turns out to be a fine chef. But how many people will become regulars at a place that’s half-a-mile from the nearest subway station? We sure won’t.

10. Taureau. Chef Didier Pawlicki (of La Sirène) opened this all-fondue joint to very little critical notice. We loved our meal, but we’re not going to return regularly for such a limited menu. Still, we think it’s a great date place. There’s nothing like cooking raw meat in a shared pot of boiling oil to bring people closer.


Honorable Mentions: There are a few notable places that didn’t make our list, that nevertheless deserve a word or two.

1. Anfora. This quickly became my go-to wine bar after it opened in May. I probably visited fifteen or twenty times. But unlike some wine bars, the food menu here is too limited to qualify Anfora as a real restaurant. That’s why it didn’t make my top ten.

2. Maialino. Danny Meyer’s Roman Trattoria actually opened in late 2009, and we reviewed it in December, but most of the pro critics reviewed it this year, so you’ll probably see it on a lot of Top Ten lists. Our own meal there was slightly disappointing, but it was probably atypical, as Meyer’s restaurants tend to get better over time.

3. Má Pêche. You’ll definitely see David Chang’s first midtown restaurant on most critics’ top-ten lists, despite the fact that hardly anyone thought he had improved upon, or even equaled, what he’d achieved in the East Village. But in a bad year, Chang’s seconds are still pretty good. I dined here three times, and will again, but the review meal was not that great, although I hear the menu has changed a lot since then.

4. Recette. Jesse Schenker’s small-plates restaurant will also be on a lot of top-ten lists. I liked everything I tried; by the same token, I can’t actually remember any of it without re-reading my own review. It lacked (for me) any of the more memorable dishes from our top-ten list.

5. Terroir Tribeca. This was my other go-to wine bar, and unlike Anfora, it does have enough of a menu to qualify as a real restaurant. It doesn’t make the top ten because it’s practically the same as Terroir in the East Village, which opened in 2008. (Tamarind Tribeca, which does make our top ten, is quite a bit different from the original Tamarind in the Flatiron District.)


Kin Shop

Note: Harold Dieterle closed Kin Shop and its sister restaurant, Perilla, late in 2015. He said that he was “not having fun and enjoying myself.”


Harold Dieterle, the winner of Top Chef Season 1, has done many admirable things. To date, he is the only winner of that show to parlay his success into a restaurant: Perilla.

And since opening three years ago, Dieterle has basically stayed put, focusing on his kitchen, not photo-ops. Critical reception was tepid, but we liked Perilla when we visited earlier this year, and it remains steadily busy.

A few weeks ago, he opened Kin Shop, a Thai restaurant. Yeah, it’s a bit of an eye-roller: both the kitschy name, and the deeper question whether Thai cuisine is something a non-native can just dabble in.

Does Kin Shop qualify as an authentic Thai restaurant? I’ll leave that debate to others. In an interview, Dieterle wisely described the menu as “spins on traditional dishes” and “original stuff with influences from Thai flavors and ingredients.” In short: it doesn’t much matter whether you would see these exact dishes in Thailand.

The menu is much more focused than at the typical Thai restaurant, where you could visit every day for months without running out of new things to try. There are just two dozen items, all served family style, as sharable plates. It’s fairly priced for the West Village, though not if your idea of great NYC Thai food is a place in Queens. Salads and soups are $9–14, vegetables $8–9, noodles and curries $14–25.

Spicy Duck Laab Salad ($13; above left) was aggressively hot. We loved it, but we were left with no taste for the Beef Tartare ($14; above right), which failed to make much of an impression.

Dieterle’s skill with proteins really shone, including the tenderest duck breast ($24; above left) that I’ve had in a long time. Put it in pancakes and add some red curry sauce, and you are in for a treat.

Goat ($21; above right) came with a milder curry sauce and a blaze of fried shallots, purple yams, mustard greens, and toasted coconuts. It seemed to be the same cut that would be called osso buco if it were veal, and if this were Italy. Having been braised for many hours, it came off the bone like butter. [Update: Justin, in the comments, says it’s the neck, not the osso buco.]

We didn’t mind the family-style service, but the food came out too fast. Our first two items, plus a Stir Fry of Aquatic Vegetables ($9; above left), all arrived at once. Perhaps we’d have liked that Beef Tartare better if the Duck Laab Salad hadn’t been there to overwhelm it. Perhaps the vegetables wouldn’t have seemed dispensable if they’d been served later.

The two entrées came together, as well, and I began to suspect this was part of a strategy for turning tables. Kin Shop is packed in its early days: both the bar (where they also serve food) and the tables were full, and the host was turning walk-ins away. Servers, at least, are attentive and well informed about the cuisine.

The space is narrow, with an open kitchen in the back. There is exposed brick, painted white. Green floral wall hangings match the banquettes, in a design not especially suggestive of Thailand. It is exactly what you expect a West Village-y dining room to be.

I suspect the Sripraphai set will sniff haughtily at Kin Shop, but Harold Dieterle’s version of Thai cuisine is very good indeed.

Kin Shop (469 Sixth Avenue between 11th & 12th Streets, West Village)

Food: **
Service: *
Ambaince: *
Overall: *½