Catch Up with Our Food Critics: Rao Pans Tribeca Canvas; Sietsema Feasts at The Marrow


This week, Tejal Rao and Robert Sietsema dine at two of the city’s buzziest new restaurants, Tribeca Canvas and The Marrow.

How did our critics rate Morimoto’s “fancy fast food” concept and Harold Dieterle’s family-inspired spot? Find out after the break.

In her latest review, Rao says, “no, thanks,” to Tribeca Canvas, the international mash-up from celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto. While reserving a word of appreciation for the “truly nice staff,” our critic can’t forgive the place’s egregious missteps.

Rao writes:

If human civilization had been destroyed and the earth was a cultural wasteland, if all a young cook had to go on was a recipe collection preserved by T.G.I. Friday’s, then he might come up with this flabby mash-up of a menu, on which every overwrought dish is an amalgam of international fast-casual concepts.

The restaurant’s website promises the “seamless integration” of Western technique and Asian ingredients, but turns out that just means a mediocre rendition of mac-and-cheese topped with a chiffonade of basil ($13).

And while Rao searches for poetry on her plate, the restaurant offers none.

A slider should be a haiku of bun and meat. The sandwich format is not particularly well suited to tiramisu, which requires the interplay of many layers, the soaking of biscuits. These syrupy tiramisu sliders seem left over from last night’s bachelorette party (of course, they’re the wrong shape, even for that).

Slightly further uptown, Robert Sietsema evaluates Harold Dieterle’s third West Village restaurant, The Marrow, an Italian-German concept inspired by the chef’s own heritage. Our critic writes that Dieterle “puts together a menu that might be seen as culinary catharsis through public self-psychoanalysis.” In other words, he draws dishes from both sides of his family — his Italian mother and German father.

Sietsema on The Marrow:

Harold Dieterle, champion of Top Chef’s first season, is the rare veteran of the program who’s fulfilled the promise of his victory–not as pop-up impresario, personal-appearance warhorse, or talk-show sidekick, but as a restaurant-empire builder.

From Dad’s side comes a magnificent duck schnitzel ($29), brown as a bun just out of the oven and richly textured, reminding us that duck meatballs were a signature of Dieterle’s on Top Chef. It comes with a cucumber-potato salad, quark-cheese spaetzle toasted to crunchiness, and stewed wolfberries–German sounding, but really just the currently faddish Chinese gojis. Mom steps forward with a perfect marrow bone ($16) sluiced with sea urchin and Meyer-lemon aioli. Feathery baby celery leaves decorate the top like a forest canopy shading a brook of liquid fat.

By the meal’s end, Sietsema commends the chef for taking a few risks:

Overall, though, the food is excellent, and represents a leap forward for Dieterle as a chef, who is cooking more assertively in this venue than ever before.

The city’s other critics were equally busy this week. At the Times, Pete Wells also visited The Marrow, and while he’s taken with the sweet story behind the menu, he describes a number of dishes as being “unfocused.” “One minute, the Marrow would send out something as concise and well considered as an appetizer of shredded duck leg pressed into a brick under a crackling sheet of skin,” Wells writes, but the next plate might offer odd “nuggets of pastrami.” He awards the restaurant one star.

Still seeking another opinion regarding The Marrow? Adam Platt can offer one. NY Mag’s critic recognizes that “Dieterle’s restaurants tend to improve with age,” even if “right now too many dishes at the Marrow seem to work better in theory than they do on the plate.”

And yet, some critics need no convincing that The Marrow is already a hit. Time Out’s Jay Cheshes — yes, he ate there, too — calls the restaurant “Dieterle’s best by far.”

The week of highlighting the establishments of former Top Chef winners continues over at Bloomberg, as Ryan Sutton samples Hung Huynh’s (of TC Season 3) $69 General Tso’s chicken at The General. Sutton reports that the cavernous Bowery venue “offers diluted flavors that never reach beyond pan-Asian party fare.”

On the Upper West Side, the NY Post’s Steve Cuozzo is “shocked” by his “train-wreck” of a meal at Cafe Tallulah. He describes the restaurant’s existence as “the worst news on Columbus Avenue since a 1980s water main project put dozens of stores out of business.”