October 2, 2006 | Insatiable Critic


        I don’t want to suggest that Picholine’s septuagenarian fans aren’t frisky and vital tonight as I scan the room with its new silvery plumage. Will a younger crowd be drawn, as chef-owner Terrance Brennan hopes, by this new stripped-down elegance (sedate if not soporific), new sound (Diana Krall instead of Pavarotti), and new pricing ($64 for two courses) from the updated menu? Well, disco-and-rock-diminished ears will welcome the near-quiet, and Brennan’s longtime fans will happily wallow again in his signature truffle-tinged risotto. Tonight its creaminess is laced with rabbit, wild mushrooms, and corn. Red gazpacho granité anchored in white gazpacho mottled with paprika, shrimp, and almonds is a dramatic diversion, and pungent sea-urchin panna cotta with a generous plop of farmed osetra seems worth a $6 premium. Nor should you bypass cheese in the den of this cheese-infatuated man. That’s extra, too, as are $14 desserts. Cheesecake ice-cream sandwiches would be better if the filling didn’t ooze over my wrist at first bite. Marvelous warm apple brioche with salted caramel ice cream is the better choice. Not everything is as luscious as squid-ink linguine with calamari and chorizo aïoli in paella broth, or the subtly licoriced squab with figs. Sweetbreads are undistinguished, and neither pompano nor the black sea bass merits an encore. It’s too early for stern judgment when surely Brennan is still refining. Look for the purplish-brown door till the new logo’d awning arrives.

35 W. 64th St. nr. B'way 212 724 8585

Cafe Fiorello