Critic Roundup: Let Them Eat Steak

Every week, The Daily Meal rounds up restaurant reviews from across America

The "Bife De Chorizo" at Washington D.C.'s Rural Society.

For many American restaurant critics, this past week’s focus was on meat; some reviewed restaurants that specialize in its preparation, while others critiqued eateries that have broadened their emphasis to include more than steak or sausage.

Scott Reitz of The Dallas Observer enjoyed dining at chef John Tesar’s Knife, which he characterized as a twist on the decadent dining staple, the steakhouse: “you soon realize you're not in another chophouse… Knife has a softer, more casual side that's reflected all the way down to the plates.” There is a copious amount of bacon, even for a steakhouse, five different cuts that comprise a “new school” menu, and “[e]ven the most clichéd steakhouse classics get a twist here, like the wedge salad, which is not a wedge at all but a hemisphere.” The kitchen struggled with consistency at times, both in the cooking of the meat and the freshness of some of the produce, but in the end, Reitz declares the spot “an exceedingly likable restaurant. Consider it the quirky non-steakhouse for all.”

The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema reviewed Rural Society, Philadelphia chef Jose Garces’ new Argentine restaurant, installed in the Loews Madison Hotel. It features a bonfire and a wood-fed grill, which was for Sietsema “the source of one of the choicest cuts of meat in recent memory, rib-eye from Uruguay.” The eatery has more to offer than steaks from the grill, however, as the critic called out the beets, Taglierini with shrimp, the “dark, intense — and irresistible” blood sausage, and the pizzas as stars of the menu as well. He even praised the imaginative dessert, something that’s a very rare find in a steakhouse, advising that “[t]he coolest dessert at Rural Society is honey ice cream dusted with cinnamon and treated to a tiny pitcher of red dessert wine, splashed over the scoops upon arrival. The idea came to Garces when he and his team were eating at a winery in Uruguay that produces the aromatic Alcyone Tannat.”

Pete Wells of The New York Times greatly enjoyed his dinner at Grindhaus in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood — so much so that he awarded it two stars. Originally conceptualized as a German sausage spot, owner Erin Norris had to reimagine the direction when the space she bought was revealed to have a number of problems, including a lack of room to successfully produce sausage on a large scale, the implausibility of installing gas burners, and a lack of structural stability. Norris kept at it, though, even after Hurricane Sandy obliterated the space and the new kitchen equipment she had just purchased. She raised more money, rebuilt, and hired chef Aaron Taber, who works alone in a kitchen that’s “almost exactly the dimensions of the restroom,” Wells reveals. He is clearly delighted by Taber’s food, as well as the whole vibe of the restaurant.” The team’s stubbornness and ingenuity paid off, and their reward is a glowing review from the esteemed restaurant critic, in which he asserts that their eatery is “a place where certain flavors, like the seared foie gras with ripe strawberries in warm strawberry-rhubarb juice, or the duck breast with morels and rye berries, were so intense that I called over the server and asked for the same dish again, please, before another course left the kitchen.”

Restaurant Critic Roundup: 7/17/14





Alan Richman


Blue Hill at Stone Barns

4 Stars

Pete Wells

The New York Times


2 stars

Rebecca Rothbaum

T Magazine

Lantern Inn


Gael Greene

Insatiable Critic

General Assembly

Mostly Positive

Tom Sietsema

Washington Post

Rural Society


Scott Reitz

The Dallas Observer



Michael Bauer

San Francisco Chronicle


2 stars

Providence Cicero

The Seattle Times

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

2.5 Stars


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