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Rodell Adores The Austrian Authenticity of BierBeisel; Gold Jumps Aboard Bestia

BierBeisl

BierBeislPhoto: BierBeisl

At BierBisl, Bernhard Mairinger "has a firm grip on classic technique, a highly endangered asset in today's world of young chefs who know which chemicals will make your food look like globules of magical, quivering boogers but aren't sure how to make a Caesar salad dressing by hand." So writes Besha Rodell on Beverly Hills' authentic Austrian restaurant, charmed by the sense of transportation if offers back to Europe and taken aback by the prices and "overwhelmed," though charming and committed service. Citing favorite dishes like a "meticulous" sweetbread and salsify appetizer , reassuring" goulash, and "one of the best charcuterie plates in town," Rodell finds that "Mairinger's cooking adheres to that foundation of doing things right" at a restaurant that offers "relief from the trendy, the ordinary, the overdone." Three stars! [LAW]

At Bestia, "we're tasting...a new, anti-California cuisine," Johnathan Gold writes, "Italian cooking that willfully turns its back on the lessons taught by Wolfgang Puck, Mark Peel and Celestino Drago, among others, food whose flavors are neither amplified nor perfected but are simply presented as themselves." He advises having patience for the pizza oven to break in and calls the most popular pasta dish "Not bad, if you can handle the idea of chocolate pasta." But "the most developed flavors here come through the meat-curing room, flavors developed by natural fermentation rather than imposed by an herb-wielding chef." Bestia, he notes, "a place where the cooks know where to stop." [LAT]

Following last week's one-and-a-half star take-down of the execution at Mare in Laguna Beach, Brad A. Johnson sounds even less impressed by Landmark in Newport. Applauding Travis Flood's touch with seafood, steak, and a beef tarate starter, the critic remains distracted by what he sees as a "hygiene problem." Blame that on the spot's nightclub trappings spilling over to the dining room. "On my first visit...I instantly realize something is off when I casually place my hands on the table - and they stick to it," he writes, while the server laughs it off by blaming "last night's bottle service." Retch! "I feel bad for the chef," the critic admits. "He deserves a better support system than this...I'm tempted to wait until a more serious restaurant steals him away." One star goes to the seaside slimer. [OCR]

Angeleno's Lesley Balla "wasn't a regular at Spago by any stretch" and is crying no tears for its departed look or old menu. In fact she finds the "transformation to be astounding...This dramatic re-imagining is just what the doctor ordered: a new Spago for a new generation." [Angeleno]

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