Today's review roundup includes: Hemsin, Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar, Cesca, Mix, Café La Palette
NYTimes Diner's Journal William Grimes visits Hemsin (39-17 Queens Boulevard (near 39th Street), Sunnyside, Queens):
Hemsin is an easygoing restaurant with deli counters on the left displaying all manner of kebabs and flaky pastries. Big ovens behind the cases hold the secret to the restaurant's success. All day and all night they produce pide, the puffy, round flat breads, crisp at the edges and chewy in the center, that make the foundation for Hemsin's so-called Turkish pizzas. Lahmacun, a $2.95 pizza snack, is topped with ground lamb and assorted vegetables chopped into bits.
"Meat pita" sounds unappealing, but it's one of the best of the pizza-style dishes on the menu, topped with small chunks of lamb and sautéed bell pepper. Other toppings include kashar cheese, sun-dried beef and sausage.
The rest of the menu is devoted to classic Turkish dishes.
Citysearch reviews Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar (246 E 5th St):
Bivalve-phobes be warned: There's little on the menu for you to eat. Even for oyster lovers, there are few options: Just four types of oysters are available on an average night. Luckily, the seafood is exuberantly fresh. Deconstructed oysters Rockefeller--just-warmed and not-yet-set oysters atop wilted spinach with a bit of bacon--is the best dish on the menu. An all-encompassing three-tiered seafood tower featuring raw oysters, clams and scallops; lobster and prawns; and caviar with toast points is extravagant, but hungrier diners may leave unsatisfied.
Citysearch reviews Cesca (164 W 75th St):
Valenti's cooking is soulful and hearty. His smoked speck ham underlying poached egg-rucola parmesan cups, and fresh ricotta with house-marinated artichokes showcase stellar ingredients. Some pastas, such as sweet shrimp raviolini sprinkled with intensely herby breadcrumbs, are elegant; others, including a dreamy ragu-laced baked ziti draped with molten parmesan cream, are rustic yet refined. Grilled lamb loin and sausage with herby cauliflower stew, and pancetta-wrapped calves liver with almost-too-strong agrodolce sauce, satisfy comfort cravings. For dessert, the perfectly textured panna cotta with blood orange compote cannot be beat.
"All Mixed Up" is how I would describe every meal I've had here.
From the cook who forgot to remove the parchment from my halibut filet to the waiter who thought we ordered the "crispy" salad instead of the "crunchy" salad (that conversation was vintage Marx Brothers) to the kitchen that somehow read our dessert choice as "chicken potpie" and the server who delivered it right alongside my autumn fruit compote without flinching, the service can be...entertaining.
Until you get your bill. Mix was touted as "Ducasse on a dime." But a meal here is no bargain, and you'll get no help from a wine list where most wines by the glass are over $15.
. . . The good news is that when your food finally arrives, it is dynamite. Chef Douglas Psaltis is a wizard of flavor and finesse. To wit: his elegantly balanced bouillabaisse broth, poured from a glass "teapot" into your deep bowl, where rouille-licked croutons and teensy calamari spirals await. One spoonful and you won't miss the shellfish at all. The heavier, untraditional chowder, with its micro-mince of clams and Lilliputian fingerlings, is as dreamy as it is creamy.
NY Daily News reviews Café La Palette (50 MacDougal St., between Houston and Prince):
Café La Palette is a little French and a little Brazilian, but it's mainly SoHo. At noon, a few locals roll in for breakfasts of croissants, omelets or bowls of honey-drizzled fruit, and find themselves sitting next to shoppers lunching on sandwiches and crepes.
. . . When a new owner took over Le Gamin, she kept some of the Gallic dishes while adding others from her native Brazil. This partnership shows in the French posters on the walls and soft Portuguese songs on the sound system.