RESTAURANT REVIEWS: VINO LEVANTINO, BUSTAN AND TAVERN ON THE GREEN

vino-levantino-bar

Some local restaurants have been getting some generally strong reviews over the past week or so, while one was criticized for its decor. Check them out below:

Vino Levantino, a new wine bar and restaurant on 94th street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, got rave reviews from Dan Friedman at the Forward’s food blog for its veggie dishes.

“Despite offering only a small selection of tapas-sized servings of eggplant, tomato, chickpeas, leeks, potatoes and kohlrabi, Vino Levantino makes a fair case for the cuisine as it spreads out and encompasses the whole Eastern Mediterranean. Each dish is carefully prepared and herbed to complement, not overpower, the ingredients. The beech mushroom salad takes just a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup dressing. Lightly frying the leek-and-potato patties (similar to the traditional Passover dish keftikes de prassa) with dill elevates them from being just leeky latkes.”

bustan breadBustan, the Mediterranean restaurant (and hummus champ) on Amsterdam between 83rd and 84th streets, got two strong reviews in the past few days, including one from tough-to-please Post columnist Steve Cuozzo:

“In amateur hands, a taboon — like Indian tandoor ovens or barbecue pit smokers — can dry out everything. But [co-owner Efi] Nahon uses gas to complement the wood fire, as well as a rotating base, nontraditional methods meant to keep the temperature at a uniform 650 degrees and prevent overcooking.

A hint of olive tree chips added to the fire subtly smokes its way through the lineup. So that’s where squid grilled a la plancha, surprisingly served with challah bread, gets its barbecue mood!”

The Observer’s always-funny Joshua David Stein also gushed about Bustan:

“I didn’t want to leave and returned for dinner again and again. One could make the argument that Mr. Nahon is a one-trick pony, but so was Prometheus. Fire is a nifty trick. Mr. Nahon is especially deft at using the high heat of the taboon for a few seconds to imbue fish with a smoky richness.”

We haven’t seen any food reviews of Tavern on the Green yet, but Bloomberg.com critic James Tarmy had a mixed reaction to the decor, which some of our commenters have also criticized.

“In the center of the structure is a slightly institutional, lobby-style glass box, which faces the outdoor courtyard. It holds banquettes and, further inside, an open-kitchen. It’s a modern room, but in what may have been a nod to the interior’s previous, maximalist decor, windows into the kitchen are flanked by Gothic-style columns. The juxtaposition is jarring, and it’s a recurring problem throughout the interior. Whereas the old restaurant at least knew what look it wanted and went for it, the current design scheme can’t seem to make up its mind: is it modern or nostalgic? Ornate or austere? It tries to have it both ways, and the result is muddled.”

FOOD | 10 comments | permalink
    1. swg says:

      I find the furniture in that glass box to look like it’s coming from the Grand Floridian hotel at Disney World or someone’s beach house in the ’80s.

    2. Judy says:

      I ate at Bustan some weeks ago; had tandoori chicken, which was served on hummus that was swimming in oil. The home made bread was nothing special, the portions were small, and nearly tasteless. The price was around $27. I will not be going back. Soda was $5.

    3. Paul RL says:

      Vino Levantino has a nice vibe and friendly staff to match their tasty food (the root salad and lamb chops are standouts) and wine list. Great place for a drink or meal. Live music on Thursday nights!

    4. Jerry says:

      I`ve eaten at Bustan three times and am extremely impressed. The food is inspired, sublime.

    5. TG says:

      Cuozzo calls Amsterdam Avenue “Manhattan’s most pitiable culinary boulevard.” That guy needs to get out more in this decade. The stretch in the West 80s with Jacob’s Pickles, Cocina Economica, Celeste, Land Thai Kitchen, Luke’s Lobster, Oaxaca, Vai, Saravaana Bhavan, Barney Greengrass, Mermaid Inn, etc. can hold its own against your average Manhattan stretch quite well, thank you very much.

      • Jeff says:

        Ditto, I thought the same thing. Seems like every critic who writes a positive review of a UWS restaurant feels compelled to prove their savvy by throwing in a line about the neighborhood’s dining options being dreadful except for this new gem they’ve discovered. It’s really getting old.

    6. Maria from UWS says:

      Tavern is a real disappointment. I was hopeful that the neighborhood was gaining a great new place, but it winds up to be a generic restaurant in the heart of Manhattan. One could be dining Anywhere USA; nothing distinguishes it as a Manhattan experience- not the food or the decor. Clearly it was crafted for the American tourist crowd. This restaurant is steeped in New York history. It should pay homage to that history. I won’t be back.

      • ws says:

        Tavern on the Green has always been a tourist trap. But why the city kicked them out when they were the high bidders, then left it empty for years, finally renting it to a couple of no name small timers from Philly because no respected local would touch it is a story of incompetence and – my guess – personal animus that should be investigated.

        • webot says:

          agree.

          I am a Bloomberg fan, but what was that all about?
          The LeRoy legacy should have lived on.

          the place was so over the top, it was great. the union service was horrible, but thats another story.

          I have not been to the new one yet. So reserve judgment.

    7. jsn says:

      Lets face it.. the people living in NY these days have only experienced food from their former suburban or mid western restaurants. They eat fast food and drink sodas? They have no clue what a really good restaurant should be like. SAD.