Today, Frank Bruni very strangely gets Bar Artisanal right, yet all wrong, in awarding one star:
With the new restaurant Bar Artisanal, positioned and presented as a casual spinoff of Artisanal, Mr. Brennan has made the journey all the way downtown, to TriBeCa, and his cheese, of course, has traveled with him. Much of it is exhibited at a counter not entirely unlike Artisanal’s, but since that’s old hat for him, it’s not the striking part. What’s more arresting, amusing and in many crucial instances rewarding is the way cheese recurs across Bar Artisanal’s menu, dotting and flecking it, like dill or caraway in a wedge of havarti…
Take away the cheese and what’s left is a calculating, somewhat cynical operation, connected to the Hilton Garden Inn, that’s not all that reflective of Mr. Brennan, who guides but doesn’t actually own it. Bar Artisanal pillages and repackages current trends with astonishing thoroughness, commanding attention for that alone. If restaurants could be preserved in amber and tucked away for future students of gustatory anthropology, this might be the one to save and label, “New York City, circa 2010.”
We are struck by this, because although Bar Artisanal does indeed bow to trends, they are the very trends that Bruni has worshipped and adored during his five-year tenure. We are not even convinced that it is true. The cheese course alone makes Bar Artisanal a destination restaurant, since only one other restaurant in town (sister establishment Artisanal) offers anything like this variety, at anything approaching this price point.
And for all that, he calls out only one dish for outright criticism:
…a few out-and-out duds, the overpopulated “duck” pissaladière — with duck gizzard, duck confit, duck liver and a duck egg — foremost among them…
Funnily enough, we had that dish ourselves a week or two ago and considered it excellent. Having lambasted the restaurant for being enslaved to fashion, the one dish he pans is among those being served nowhere else.
We predicted and agree with Bruni’s one-star rating. But in the Times system, one star is supposed to mean “good.” Here, Bruni’s text suggests “Not So Good,” which is all wrong.
In Dining Briefs, Ligaya Mishan channels her inner Restaurant Girl in a review of Public Fare at the Delacorte Theater:
Roasted baby carrots spar in a lively mix of pickled versus peppery… Among the sandwiches, the organic chicken salad ($6.50) pulls rank with the gratifying crunch of green beans, celery and radish, and a fillip of chili pepper… The big disappointment is the B.L.T. ($7). Mine was over-mayoed and under-tomatoed; the pallid slices of tomato, more outer edge than juicy center, were no match for the brash hickory-smoked bacon.