I snuck in a meal at Vandaag last week. It was pleasant, the food was good, but I am a sucker for anyone that will serve me a bowl of house-made pickled vegetables. The mains were fully enjoyable, but not large. I had a braised shortrib, my dinner partner had one of the fish specials. The surly but competent waiter suggested we order a side of potatoes. They came glazed in some sort of syrup, with crisp bacon bits, and shallots. They were fatty, salty, sweet and addictive. And unfortunately for Vandaag, they are the only thing about the meal that I remember.
Which brings me to Sam Sifton...he gave Vandaag two stars and made it a critic's pick. While Vandaag is a totally acceptable, even pretty good restaurant, two stars is absurd. Perhaps I was not as impressed by the space as dear Sam seemed to be. The entire first page of his review is dedicated to the look of the restaurant and the cocktails. Vandaag is a large open space with tables and benches and nothing more. I have zero concept of why this was so impressive to Sam Sifton. Its not ugly, but its sparse, and uninteresting. The old school kitschy plates and floral pattern aprons that the servers have to wear scream "hipsters please come in."
Once again, the stars seem to mean almost nothing.