Sifton Enjoys Niko; Cheshes Calls M. Wells an ‘Ambitious Newcomer’

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Niko is "old-fashioned and rare, a restaurant with good food run by the guy who actually owns the business, devoted to its regulars," says Sam Sifton. "Red king crab legs are sweet and excellent, served with drawn butter and a bean-sprout kimchi. A slow-roasted spicy chicken served with consommé can improve a mood immediately, and sustain it for hours afterward." [NYT]
Related: What to Eat at Niko, Opening Monday in Soho

M. Wells is "an ambitious newcomer that is shaping up to be NYCs deliverance from its rustic Italian rut," says Jay Cheshes. "You wont find a better all-American lobster roll than the knife-and-fork monster here. Save a few things for the next visit. Its not going away." [TONY]

At Mable's Smokehouse, "the sliced brisket, in particular, is superb rimmed with fat, smoke-ringed, and nicely chewy," writes Robert Sietsema. "Though nicely cooked and tender, the [pork ribs] have been brushed with barbecue sauce prior to serving, depriving you of your barbecue Free Will." [VV]

Ember Room "succumbs to the pitfalls of pan-Asian takeoutplates arrive battered by sweetness and abandoned by spice," writes Lauren Shockey. "A hunkering portion of fork-tender short ribs does the barbecue concept proud. Yet the sliders reflect perfectly what's up at Ember Room: a trendy concept, muddied by bizarre ingredient pairings, inauthentic recipes, and an apparent identity crisis." [VV]

The menu at Lincoln, which changes daily, "tends toward Italian classics gently tweaked," says Shauna Lyon. "The velvety green-garlic-and-broccoli purée with ricotta gnudi was ethereal. Pastas are hit or miss." [NYer]
Related: Adam Platt on Lincoln Ristorante

At Marc Forgione, the tortellini de avanzi "is impressively delicate and the veal-mushroom farce inside has the heady perfume of truffled balsamic," writes Gael Greene. "The pork tenderloin with boudin noir stays juicy, served on classic pommes puree with apple and bacon chutney and a thatch of deep-fired leek strings on top." [Insatiable Critic]

Beauty & Essex offers "small plates and 'toasts,' which cynics will call open-faced sliders. The menu is largely an Epcot World Showcase of multiethnic finger food even soup is taken out of its bowl and transformed into a lobster bisque dumpling," says Ryan Sutton. "Try the fluffy chicken meatballs, then follow up with a hamburger whose wallop of flavor comes from a musty, salty swath of goat feta." [Bloomberg]