Critic Roundup: Mari Vanna Causes 'Soviet-Era Nostalgia'

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At Mari Vanna, you can taste chilled horseradish vodka, "pungent as Philippe's hot mustard, served in heavy crystal pitchers," says restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, who adds that after a few minutes you may feel that you need it.

This week in restaurant news, critic Jonathan Gold describes Russian-style restaurant Mari Vanna in Los Angeles as causing a "sensation of self-conscious Soviet-era nostalgia so thickly layered that a Kiev childhood may be necessary to understand it all." His desciption of the restaurant atmosphere explains it all: "It is hard not to feel as if your perceptions have been altered, that the grove of olive trees on the patio have been festooned with a hundred birdhouses, that the samovar in the corner trickles an endless stream into a bottomless pitcher, and that everyone in the room seems to be clapping along with a wheezing accordion." He says that you can taste chilled horseradish vodka, "pungent as Philippe's hot mustard, served in heavy crystal pitchers," and adds that after a few minutes you may feel that you need it.

In New York, Nourish Kitchen + Table is "comfort food for city chic-sters," says restaurant critic Alan Richman. "It’s a cozy eating place with a tiny kitchen and very few tables, as the name suggests... The restaurant reveals small delights: vases with fresh flowers, plants on the sill behind a chef’s counter, flatware in jars, rolled-up cloth napkins. The menu emphasizes earthy grains and salads colorfully accented with bits of fruits, nuts, and vegetables, but there are sandwiches and main dishes, too. A few items are for sale: aprons, woven bowls, porcelain mugs, bound volumes of articles from earnest quarterly food magazines. Nothing is ordinary here."

In Washington, D.C., the new Ted’s Bulletin location "follows the same recipe as the original on Capitol Hill," says restaurant critic Tom Sietsema. "Customers can watch 'Pop-Tarts' being made up front, coast into a boozy milkshake at one of the friendliest bars around, and take in an old movie from their perch in the boisterous, brick-bound dining room beyond." Here, the menu boasts American comfort food.

 

Restaurant Critic Roundup: 11/20/2013

Critic Publication Restaurant Rating
Gael Greene Insatiable Critic Red Farm UWS  
Alan Richman GQ Nourish Kitchen + Table 1 star
Tom Sietsema Washington Post Ted’s Bulletin  
Ryan Sutton Bloomberg Toro 2 stars
Michael Bauer San Francisco Chronicle Vestry  
Pete Wells New York Times Piora 2 stars
Jonathan Gold Los Angeles TImes Mari Vanna  
Tom Sietsema OC Register Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen 2.5 stars
Devra First The Boston Globe Kirkland Tap & Trotter  
Stan Sagner NY Daily News Bunker  
Scott Reitz Dallas Observer Sheba's Ethiopian Kitchen  

 

Click here for The Daily Meal's "Top Chefs Review — and Rate — America's Food Critics."

 

Haley Willard is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter at @haleywillrd

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