Lauren Shockey Likes It Hot at Zabb Elee; Sifton Takes Masa Down a Peg

This week in the Voice, Lauren Shockey orders her food "Thai hot" at the East Village offshoot of Queens restaurant Zabb Elee and is delighted to find a menu that "traverses a maze of sour, tangy, and piquant flavors, each brighter than the next."

Sam Sifton shocks the New York restaurant scene by downgrading chef Masayoshi Takayama's wildly expensive sushi palace from four stars to three. While the "quality of the ingredients and preparations were sometimes breathtaking," the $450 price tag and inconsistent service created a few "wrinkles in Masa's fine silk." [NY Times]

Pete Wells parties like it's 1899 at Williamsburg's Maison Premiere, an absinthe and oyster bar where "stagecraft dominates the experience until the moment a plate of oysters shows up, and you eat one. That's when you understand that the fakers who run this place are for real." [NY Times]

Steve Cuozzo wonders why the food press has never given Rockefeller Center eatery Brasserie Ruhlmann the respect it deserves, noting that while "none of the dishes strays far from the familiar Manhattan playbook ... it's a playbook built around the fine raw materials and seasonally attuned composition New Yorkers expect." Not to mention it has a beautiful, umbrella-dotted patio. [NY Post]

Gael Greene wanders into Pichet Ong's chichi Hell's Kitchen spot Qi Bangkok Eatery, which looks like "something between Versailles and a Vegas spa." Despite the flashy digs, she loves the food, including the green papaya salad, the "perfectly cooked" grilled heads-on tiger prawns, and the thrillingly spicy red turmeric pork curry. [Insatiable Critic]

The Serious Eats team is in love with the Beagle, an American bistro with Portland origins, which is one of the few places in New York where "not only are both the cocktail bar and restaurant exemplary (even destination-worthy), but they also complement each other -- where a clear degree of thought is put into their pairing, not just their separate programs." [Serious Eats]

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