Per Se Salon Impresses; Burger Battle at Minetta Tavern

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Frank Bruni eats cheap(er) this week: Anthos Upstairs is “an improvisation, and feels that way”; Damon: Frugal Friday has a “frantic pace”; Halfsteak suffers from “half service”; and the à la carte meal at Per Se was “superb — and yet utterly ridiculous.” [NYT]

Alan Richman also visits the bargain Per Se and swoons for less than $250: “‘[À] la carte’ is defined as eating a normal-sized meal at a price normal human beings might consider reasonable.” [Forked/GQ]

“The food is almost as compelling as the celebrities,” says Ryan Sutton of Minetta Tavern. [Bloomberg]

Danyelle Freeman picks the Minetta burger over the Black Label burger. [NYDN]

Gael Greene defies the photography ban at Monkey Bar, but “given all the unemployed kitchen talent floating around town, the food could be much better.” [Insatiable Critic]

“The vintage act can get to be a bit much, but Vinegar Hill [House’s] prices … redeem its pretensions,” writes Lauren Collins. [NYer]

The “spare, waif-friendly hand with butter and fat” at Armani/Ristorante 5th Avenue gave Jay Cheshes’s food the “right toothsome texture but not much real flavor.” [TONY]

There’s so much meat at Balkh Shish Kabab House in Astoria that Robert Sietsema suggests opting for a vegetarian opener: “The appetizers are fabulous.” [VV]