Critic Roundup: Feel the Rhythm, Feel the Heat

Every Week, The Daily Meal rounds up restaurant reviews from across America
Credit: facebook/ TicoDC

Tacos at Tico in D.C., which Tom Sietsema praised this week.

Two of the country’s critics reviewed Latin restaurants this week, highlighting the surge of eateries that are widening Americans’ view of this culinary category beyond arepas and churros.

Gael Green, otherwise known as The Insatiable Critic, visited Balvanera on New York’s Lower East Side. The Argentine chef, Fernando Navas, has worked in Nobu in Miami, as chef de cuisine at Sushi Samba, and was one of 50 out of 6,000 applicants chosen for a four-month stint in Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli. His beautiful Latin fusion food wowed Green, who first journeyed to the restaurant during a New York summer maelstrom, ordered “papas rotas — crispy potatoes — to nibble while deciding if we should move out once the hail let up. They were wonderful.” A number of equally authentic and delicious dishes followed, and the critic and her companion settled in even though as the skies cleared; the “mollejas were wondrously soft and crispy too, a flavorful tossup with arugula and sectioned orange. The rain had let up —a few warriors of the storm arrived to claim tables — but we weren’t going anywhere. This food was too good.”

Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post reviewed Tico, Boston chef Michael Schlow’s new venture in Washington D.C. He’s traveled the world, particularly in and around Spain and South American countries, which obviously heavily influences his culinary outlook, because — as Sietsema puts it — “Behind every dish hovers a short story.” The recipe for the side dish to the brick chicken on the menu comes from a trip the chef took with Mario Batali to Spain; he uses cumin in the lamb meatballs because “Schlow, on a visit to a home cook in Colombia, left impressed with a grandmother’s use of the dusky spice and green onion tops in a tomato sauce she made.” Even the name of the establishment is a Costa Rican term of endearment, so although Schlow describes his eatery as an “’American restaurant with international influences,’” it seems much more like a wonderful Latin restaurant that happens to be located in America, as much of the fare is “seviches, tacos, [and] food cooked on a griddle (a la plancha).” Sietsema certainly doesn’t complain, and when the chef says he’s like to do more with Tico, the critic replies, “Game on, chef.”

Restaurant Critic Roundup: 9/12/14





Richard Vines


The Jugged Hare


Devra First

Boston Globe


2 Stars

Pete Wells

The New York Times


1 Star

Gael Green

The Insatiable Critic



Tom Sietsema

Washington Post


2 Stars

Scott Reitz

The Dallas Observer

Scotch & Sausage


Brad A. Johnson

OC Register

Driftwood Kitchen

3 Stars

Michael Bauer

San Francisco Chronicle

Monsieur Benjamin

3 Stars

Providence Cicero

The Seattle Times

Brunswick & Hunt 

3 Stars


Kate Kolenda is the Restaurant/City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @BeefWerky and @theconversant.

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