New Yorkers love to complain about what used to be (and never really was) almost as much as we love to say that X is the new Y. So we shouldn't be surprised that, as he nears the end of his tenure, Times food critic Sam Sifton is on the hunt for the new Florent, the beloved Meatpacking diner which closed amidst much crying back in 2008. Why he's looking for the past in the present right now is an open question, but to try and find it he went to two spots hip with the kids these days (Miss Lily's and Coppelia) and you'll be relieved to know that neither has replaced the irreplaceable greasy spoon—though Coppelia does have charms worthy of one-star (Miss Lily, not so much).
Julian Medina's 24-hour diner on 14th Street Coppelia "may not be a restaurant where you would want to celebrate a birthday or a promotion" but "Coppelia is exactly right for the morning after, and perhaps for the next couple of meals after that." The menu is huge, as befits a diner, but its "strongest suits may be found on the small list of main dishes. Ambition winks out from them, offering a hint of the seriousness that must underscore even the most casual of good restaurants in this city." And if you only try one thing, go for the "lomo saltado, a stir-fry of Peruvian extraction that combines short ribs with soy sauce and vinegar, tomatoes and red onions, fried potatoes and rice."
As for Miss Lily's? The hip joint which has had a long-standing dispute with Vogue editrix Anna Wintour doesn't really do it for the Sifton. "As arresting as a tower of giraffes," the restaurant has a few good dishes (jerk chicken, the mackerel salad) and has a nice room but that isn't enough to get a star out of Sifton.
Meanwhile in other reviews this week:
- Steve Cuozzo at the Post likes the new Chinese restaurant Red Farm.
- Jay Cheshes at Time Out enjoys what Seamus Mullen is doing with Spanish food at Tertulia.
- Bloomberg's Ryan Sutton is big on the small Korean spot Danji.
- The Voice's Lauren Shockey had a mixed time at the Nolitan Hotel's Ellabess.
- And her peer Robert Sietsema thinks that the UWS restaurant Osteria Cotta is a new milestone in the perfection of the Italian bistro.