Robert Sietsema at Shanghai Asian Cuisine; Lauren Shockey at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria
Super soup dumplings
This week in the Voice, Robert Sietsema sucks up soup dumplings at Shanghai Asian Cuisine -- which might serve the city's best: "With a skin so thin, it's a challenge getting them from steamer to mouth intact. The accompanying tongs (utensils, not gang members) are useless, because they tear the supremely thin membrane. Your only choice is to grab the purse by the pucker with your fingers and carefully boost it onto the spoon. And thus to your mouth: Nip off the top and suck out the hot juices before eating the rest of the dumpling, dipped in black vinegar."
Lauren Shockey decides that Il Buco Alimerntai & Vineria is the perfect spot for a romantic evening. Even if your date turns out to be a dud, the ricotta is seductive: "Italian joints usually fit the bill and are a good barometer of taste. If you can't appreciate a bowl of rigatoni and a bottle of Barolo, you simply aren't worth shacking up with. Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, the smaller, cheaper spin-off of Il Buco, is about as good a rendezvous spot as you can get."
Eric Asimov is delighted that the revamped Monkey Bar caters to uptown tastes: "If you want a restaurant where an earlier definition of civilized engagement holds sway, the gracious Monkey Bar at the Hotel Elysée on the East Side will do very well. As a restaurant, Monkey Bar is more storied in its own mythology than in actual history. It is the barroom that has, as they used to say about intriguing women, a past."
Ryan Sutton, who says that Alain Allegretti "excels at charging large sums of money for French food," is surprised that the Frenchman's new Chelsea restaurant offers somewhat more affordable meals:"La Promenade isn't necessarily a steal. ... There are no amuses, no tasting menus, no tablecloths or other good fabrics to keep the noise level in check. The cacophony notwithstanding, La Promenade instantly ranks among the city's better Southern French restaurants, serving the highly aromatic fare of Nice."
Adam Platt remarks that Crown re-creates the vibe of an old-school, NYC eatery, with a speakeasy-like air: "It looks, as those establishments do, like a Broadway set designer's idea of what a grand New York restaurant ought to be. ... The waiters wear starchy white dinner jackets, and the tables are covered with crisp white linens and set, cruise-ship style, with old-fashioned lamps fitted with tiny black lampshades."
Tables for Two clarifies that East Village newcomer the Beagle is not named after the dog -- rather, the ship on which Charles Darwin traveled. The reviewers are happy that the menu doesn't feature an evolution motif, too: "Thankfully, the theme is manifest in little else but the tasteful, vaguely nineteenth-century décor -- dark wood, dim lights, antique wallpaper."