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This week on Ask the Critic: What to get excited for in 2014.
What's New in New York?
Carey, Every year I read those "preview" pieces about all the new restaurants and bars coming to New York, but there are so many places that open every year, my eyes glaze over. Which are actually worth following and checking out once they open?
Just as directors can make bad movies and bands release terrible albums, there's no guarantee that a new restaurant from a given chef will succeed. But there are a number of restaurants I've got my eye on for the new year.
One important caveat: visiting just-opened restaurants is always a bit risky. Even the most talented folks, regardless of their experience in the business or meticulous preparation for a given project, can take a few weeks to get their bearings. So right now—January, 2014?—I have my eye on all the exciting spots that didn't open their doors until the end of last year.
Places like Dover, from the phenomenal team behind Battersby, Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern. Their first restaurant was one of my favorite Brooklyn openings in ages; though Battersby is the size of a studio apartment and trying to score one of its 30-odd seats can be a nightmare, the liveliness and originality of every dish they serve makes the wait worth it. I can't wait to see what they're doing at Dover, with seafood in particular. (The fact that the new dining room's twice Battersby's size doesn't hurt.)
And now's the time to visit M. Wells Steakhouse, from Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis. The exuberant, meat-happy cooking that emerged from M. Wells Diner in Long Island City was a sheer delight, and a genuine loss when it closed its doors; while M. Wells Dinette at PS1 kept that spirit alive, it had its limitations as, essentially, a museum restaurant. I'm thrilled that they're back in full dinner-service capacity, and that they've embarked on a project—namely, no-holds-barred meat celebration—that so neatly fits their talents.
When next month rolls around? I'll be checking out Telepan Local, which just opened in Tribeca. The original Telepan is my favorite restaurant on the Upper West Side; every time I go there, I wonder why I don't venture its way more often. (The answer is: It's on the Upper West Side.) So I'm happy to welcome its downtown sibling, which looks to be a bit more accessible and informal. All'onda, too, the Italian restaurant just opened by Chris Jaeckle and Chris Cannon. And after it opens, I'll be the first one knocking on the door of Bar Bolonat, the newest restaurant from the supremely talented Einat Admony, of Balaboosta and Taïm.
Where are you looking forward to eating in 2014?
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