food 03.24.03


If Hooters can have an airline, so can Bobby Flay.

At least that seems to be the operating principle lately at Bolo, 23 E. 22nd [Bway/Park Ave. S.] 212.228.2200, where coach food, unburdened by such things as discernible flavor and proper cooking times, is being offered at unflinchingly first-class prices (entrees average $28).

Meal service might begin with tapas, as this is Mr. Flay's foray into Spanish food. You order, therefore, a salt cod fritter that should thrive with its parsley garlic sauce partner, but the garlic has apparently been left on the tarmac, so that the parsley must do a job for which it is clearly unfit. The result is like a piece of funnel cake at a street fair, late in the day.

Meanwhile, the lamb tenderloin consists of four nickel-sized pieces, none of which seems to bear the haziest connection to the late animal for which it is named. Artichoke heart with quail eggs and salmon caviar is, alas, a glutinous mess. Suggestion for the full appetizer of grilled octopus: more chillin' and less grillin'. It is badly overcooked. And saying that the shrimp with white bean vinaigrette tastes like cardboard would be an insult to cardboard everywhere.

From the galley comes a whole bream, stuffed with tarragon, roasted so long that the only flavor that survives is licorice. Paella makes a wan, listless appearance. And what did this poor pork tenderloin ever do to deserve the ghastly walnut romesco and caramelized date-shallot sauce with which it is joined? Fortunately, the smoked paprika fries are quite good and the Meyer lemon bread pudding makes a lively dessert, so it is possible to land without feeling too hungry.

As for the service, "Good evening" from the maitre d' might be a snappier greeting than "Yes, sir?" And it takes true Aeroflot style for the stew to open a second bottle of wine, pour a taste, and after the okay, pour the contents of glass number two into glass number one.

Mr. Flay is a talented guy and we're all for chefs spending time on television. But when a restaurant hits this much turbulence, you want the captain back in the cockpit. As of now, Bolo is a very unpleasant flight. And there's no movie.
The Cleaver Company, in the Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave. [15th] 212.741.9174, has long been one of our favorite catering companies. Now they've opened The Green Table in the Market, a delightful, cozy wine bar. They have a menu of seasonal small plates: wild Alaskan smoked salmon and apple ginger compote with a pink peppercorn/mint crème fraîche ($8.75), lamb pot pie, artisanal cheeses and many more. Wines by the glass average $9. The emphasis is on "handcrafted, organic and bio-dynamically grown wines and beers." The Green Table is open Tues.-Fri. 4pm-9pm, Saturday from noon to 9pm.

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