Thursday, January 27, 2011

April Bloomfield's John Dory Oyster Bar Gets Two Stars from Sifton in The New York Times

Agency friend April Bloomfield receives her second set of stars for the reincarnated The John Dory Oyster Bar (check out Frank Bruni's two star review of its first incarnation). Despite the challenges of getting a seat at times, he suggests:  Hurry up and eat, why don’t they? For the food at the John Dory is incredibly good.

A few pull quotes:

...a lobster bisque of great depths of flavor and a kedgeree that might have pleased Kipling, the restaurant’s pleasures rise and tumble like waves against the shore.

...Ms. Bloomfield is cooking well enough to hold her own against any seafood-centric kitchen in the city.

Her food can be astonishing. Take a dish the menu tartly calls chorizo stuffed squid with smoked tomato. (There was a similar item on the menu of the old John Dory.) Ms. Bloomfield buys whole Rhode Island squid and stuffs it with paella rice she cooks with chorizo, red pepper, onion and saffron. For vinaigrette she smokes her own tomatoes and tosses them with sherry vinegar, salt, olive oil and a bit of palm sugar. A cook sears the squid just long enough to heat the rice through and give its body a faint crust, then places it on a soft bed of tiny white beans cooked in crème fraîche, with a cloak of those smoked tomatoes and a hat of cilantro. It costs $15. It is among the best things you can eat in New York City. (In the $4-and-under division, even counting some Chinatown dumplings, it would be difficult to top Ms. Bloomfield’s toast slathered in a paste of anchovies, parsley and olive oil.)

Her escarole salad is a warm, crunchy, cool salad for the celestial, a Caesar meant for emperors.

But the John Dory shows she is also capable of great gentleness, of cooking that is barely more than a curator’s brief.

(Martin Schoeller's photograph
for the New Yorker profile)
The agency's favorite dish? The Oyster Pan Roast, held over from the original restaurant’s menu, combines oysters and their liquor, reduced vermouth, cream and tarragon, into a kind of ambrosia. The toast spread with sea urchin that appears with this is sublime and appears obvious, as if the sea produced butter and everyone knew it. The dish is fabulous.   And it is the kind of dish that we dream of having for lunch on such a day as today, looking out over a snowbound Madison Square from our office.

A fabulous review, all in all.  Great New York restaurants have always been difficult to get into, and those issues pass with time, usually.  So, congratulations, April--and Ken Friedman, her awesomely complementary partner. And we're really looking forward to devouring A GIRL AND HER PIG, which Dan Halpern at Ecco will publish in a few seasons.  It is a wicked good thing for the hard work and talents of our friends to be well portrayed, and Lauren Collins did that very well, too, in her New Yorker profile, "Burger Queen:  April Bloomfield's gastropub revolution," back in November.

Just to be clear:  April is not a client of the agency, though we love her dearly...