Today's review roundup includes: La Bottega, Shanghai Pavilion, Océo, OMS/B, Fatima, The Spotted Pig, Masa.
NYTimes Restaurants Amanda Hesser gives La Bottega a "satisfactory" review without much worth quoting (363 West 16th Street, in the Maritime Hotel; 212-243-8400):
At the moment, La Bottega feels more like a restaurant on automatic pilot — one built simply to fill a space in a hotel — than an inspired place to dine. Iceberg dead ahead.(Unleash the hounds!)
RECOMMENDED DISHES Escarole salad with fava beans; warm calamari; margherita pizza; grilled salmon; whole grilled sea bass; cheesecake; affogato.
NYTimes $25 and Under Eric Asimov reviews Shanghai Pavilion (1378 Third Avenue (79th Street); 212-585-3388):
The chef, Zong Xin-tu, had previously cooked at Joe's Shanghai in Flushing, Queens. While I was not familiar with Mr. Zong, I certainly knew the Flushing Joe's, to my mind the best of the small Joe's Shanghai chain.
Shanghai Pavilion is not technically a new restaurant, but a reincarnation of what had been a branch of Evergreen Shanghai. . .
Most New Yorkers know Shanghai for its soup dumplings, or juicy dumplings, as they are called on this menu. The crab and pork soup dumplings ($7) are superb, bright and rich, twisted into little tulip shapes that invite careful nibbling. If you worry the dough while holding the dumpling with chopsticks above a soup spoon, the juice will dribble into the spoon. You can than pop the dumpling with a soup chaser.
Mr. Zong's versatility is evident in two bean curd dishes. In one, bean curd squares as soft and delicate as the lightest shimmering flan are topped with a subtle crab meat and ginger sauce ($12) that I could not stop savoring. In the other, pan-fried bean curd in chef's special sauce ($8), the tofu was firmer and tougher, but the sauce, almost like a Chinese barbecue sauce, was just as subtle and evocative.
. . . I wouldn't let any meal go by without ordering the lion's head casserole ($13), with baseball-size pork dumplings soft enough to cut with chopsticks, served in a savory soy broth with onions and greens. It is wonderful over rice. Nor would I skip bamboo's dual delight ($18), a steamed fish dish served in two parts. First comes a wonderfully rich tofu soup made from a fish stock. Then the tender fish arrives, cut into pieces, doused in a light, slightly sweet rice wine sauce and arrayed in a boat carved of bamboo. It looks good and tastes even better. Red-cooked carp's belly in a tangy ginger and vinegar sauce ($13) is not as elaborate but no less delicious.
BEST DISHES Crab and pork juicy dumplings; pork juicy dumplings; bean curd with crab sauce; bean curd with chef's special sauce; beggar's chicken; eight treasure duck; lion's head casserole; bamboo's dual delight; red-cooked carp's belly; seaweed with tangerine peel.