Somewhere in the confusion of looking at a menu rife with things like deconstructed poutine with yogurt curds is an invitation to set aside preconceptions and just taste. Ink. has earned our respect with its smooth, attentive service and Michael Voltaggio's unflagging dedication to originality. He corns lamb belly so it radiates a pastrami-like richness. The salt-and-charcoal-roasted potato ignites when you spritz it with black vinegar, and the house-made “Doritos”—they could pass for a vegan chi-char-rón—are superb.
The Best New Restaurants: No. 9, January 2012
Let's face it, any chef can throw together a bunch of ingredients and claim creativity. Ultimately what sets the most talented apart are obsessiveness and craft. Though the sense of entitlement is high in Michael Voltaggio's muted gray cavern (the staff can get huffy if you order fewer than four dishes per person), a low-key artistry keeps most pretensions in check. Those croutons of black sesame brioche, dabbed free of grease by a cook behind the counter, add a perfectionist dimension when scattered over the small plate of tuna tartare. The crackly mushroom chicharrón tossed over the seared avocado traps notes of undergrowth in a puff of air. Voltaggio is prone to overuse the chemistry set (a soy gel might as well be a salt lick). But simply dressed kale chiffonade with pumpkin and burrata showcases his more restrained side, while the blowtorched dollops of maple foam crowning the chicken with waffle reveal the searching hominess of his cooking.