Leslie Brenner reviewed Village Kitchen: She found plenty of tasty fare from chef Andre Natera at this new family-friendly Highland Park Village spot, including fun shrimp corn dogs with Chinese mustard and "a flavorful flat-iron steak frites," and but overall Brenner finds most of the food "conformist — often emphatically so," especially when compared to the "creative, eloquent cooking" Natera did at his former workplace, Pyramid Restaurant at the Fairmont. Dishes like lobster mac and cheese and "a satisfying, if undistinguished, lobster roll," are well-prepared, if not exactly exciting; standouts include a compressed watermelon salad and a charcuterie board with housemade terrines and head cheese. She's also unimpressed by the dining room makeover, which feels "somewhat superficial" and generic. Three stars. [DMN]
Scott Reitz checked out Kitchen LTO: Reitz finds LTO's social media-driven, permanent pop-up concept sort of "like a bad spin on reality TV," lacking "the grit and mystery of a true pop-up." The dining room is "attractive and simple but does nothing to celebrate chef [Norman] Grimm's modern American menu." Nonetheless, Grimm is putting out some very solid dishes, including a pan-seared pork belly over apple puree "that belong[s] on your table if you come here" and sweetbreads with a sauce gribiche that's "bright and loaded with herbs"; opt for these over the listless arancini and out-of-season caprese salad. Don't miss the standout cocktail menu, which offers both classics and "more elaborate" creations by Jason Kosmas. [Observer]
Mark Vamos went to Zoli's NY Pizza Tavern: Jay Jerrier's New York-style pizzeria elevates the classic slice with "better ingredients and careful technique," and "good mozzarella and house-made tomato sauce [that] actually taste vividly like cheese and tomato." The Sicilian pie is "OK if you like that thick, bready style," but Vamos prefers the Grandma, with its thinner, crunchy-bottomed crust and uncooked tomato sauce that's "fresh and zingy with garlic." Zucchini fries are "terrific," and "straightforward salads are made with care." Three stars. [DMN]
ELSEWHERE: DFW.com tried Cowboy Chicken in Fort Worth; SideDish ate the new fall menu at Cook Hall; Confection Confessions checked out The Cupcake Cottage; TMBBQ trekked to R&G Bar-B-Que in McMahan; Fort Worth Weekly reviewed Little Red Wasp; The Barbecue Fiend did the State Fair fried food circuit.
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[Photo: Margo Sivin/EDFW]