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Pubbelly's a Hit; Bangin' Banh Mi at American Noodle Bar

This week, Lee Klein heads into the belly of the pub, as in Pubbelly--- which, last week, received 3.5 stars and rave reviews from Victoria Pesce Elliott--- located in a neighborhood where not many restaurants have survived. So "how did young, first-time owners . . . overcome the obstacles others faced? By offering fresh, creative, flavor-packed cuisine in a cozy urban-tavern setting, with attentive service, and — oh hell, forget all that for now. The main reason these guys are succeeding is because they offer the one thing those failed ventures did not: value."

And the food? "Of course, it also helps that Pubbelly embraces four currently popular dining trends: Asian food, small plates, gastro-pubs, and pork belly." One thing, though. "The main plates cost around $27 to $29. That's getting expensive for a place like this." Overall, "the food here can be wildly imaginative, as in the aforementioned duck and pumpkin dumplings, or pork belly with butterscotch and corn powder." Bottom line: "Pubbelly has figured out the secret to success." [MNT]

Over at American Noodle Bar, Victoria Pesce Elliott says the "American part of the equation is mostly great--super domestic drink selection, hot soundtrack of R&B, rap and rock, friendly counter staff and a gritty, seat-of-your pants vibe." And the food? "We adored the banh mi," "intense and delicious broths," "addictive olive sized hush puppies," "an all-American selection of offbeat sakes," and several desserts. What didn't work? "Noodle bowls with bland, sometimes tough, thick, lo mein-style noodles," "lukewarm noodle bowls light on broth," and "more gimmicky than tasty foot-long corn dog and greasy cheeseburger dumplings." End result? 2.5 stars. []


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