TONY Cooks Oven

Time Out NY has reviewed Oven and it ain’t pretty:

Time Out NY: Oven: To our surprise, the meal started out quite well. We enjoyed an appetizer of veal meatballs, baked in a sweet tomato sauce and dusted with fine Parmesan cheese. A refreshing summer salad—arugula and razor-thin shavings of Parmesan with a lemony olive-oil dressing—was delicious. But Oven’s raison d’être—pizza—doesn’t reach the same heights. Pie purists will shudder at the spongy, uncharred crust and toppings just a half step above the California Pizza Kitchen ilk (chicken curry, for one). A comically expensive $30 kobe steak pizza came topped with chunks of overcooked beef on a crème fraîche base striped with balsamic vinegar and truffle oil—an ineffective jumble of lavish fixings. (Seems management has come to its senses since our last visit—the pie is now a $20 special.)

TONY also called Henry Street restaurant row “down and out”. Is this review too brutal and negative or spot on?

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  • Steve

    Lantern Great food, service and prices

  • not happy

    i think the reason oven and busy chef will probally fail is because of their chef. he is the worst ” chef ” i have ever seen. try making the dough or even the sauce. its not hard!
    i dont know how he gets away with some of the things he does. plus he treats people worse then his cooking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • i agree

    i agree not happy –
    seems like everything at those two places is frozen
    does he make anything from scratch?

  • nancy

    I have to respectfully disagree about Busy Chef. I have gone in there many times and have never been disappointed by the food. My picky teenager says their mashed potatos ar the best. The only that doesn’t look appetizing are the bagels The young man who served me was so nice, I kept asking myself if I was really in the Heights.
    Listen, the main problem with the Heights is the rent. We have an over-inflated opinion of ourselves. People are just not opening here because it isn’t “hot”.
    I personally wish we could get Jamba Juice here!

  • heightsdiho

    Alas, unlike Nancy, I did not have a positive experience w/ Busy Chef. Bought take-out from them once and only once. The counter people were pleasant enough, but when I got home I discovered that the food was repulsive and inedible – underdone and rubbery pork kebobs. Would have taken it back but it was late and pouring rain and I was turned off to food after mistakenly taking my 1st and only bite….

  • sick of the people controlling that block!

    Why did Uncommon Ground close? it was a decent place to hang out with friends or to read and write. it was the perfect place with decent music and a cool and friendly staff. It was a place waiting to succeed, especially with a college dorm right down the street. Instead the owner decides to shut it down in favor of keeping his strip mall fantasy 7-11 convenience store open (apparently Uncommonground was taking business away from the lamechef. Duh, what did you expect?) What I don’t understand is how these places continue to open and each one is as stale as the next. They have no soul and no personality—let alone taste. It is sad that I can’t hang out at a cool coffee shop in my own neighborhood or that the same corner keeps flipping crappy souless so called restaurants that couldn’t even keep up with Ruby Tuesday’s! I’d move out of the hood but my rent is way too good! If you ever want to hire someone that might be able to bring it some life and style to your establishments give me a shout because that block has just become the laughing stock of BH!

  • JGirl

    is uncommon grounds closed for good? i thought it was just being renovated…? sorry for my ignorance but i haven’t been down to brooklyn heights in a while…

  • Andy

    NotHappy, its true! The Busy Chef is not at all Busy in the kitchen they buy practically everything and sell it as “homemade.”

  • Nite Lifer

    Hey anon – sounds like something I overheard people talking about for one of the closed up spaces on Henry Street. Trying to gauge the neighborhood? As you can read they are a friendly, opinionated and discerning group.

  • concerned

    First on Busy Chef: I have had several bad experiences at Busy Chef, one of which involved a moldy sandwich, and two of which involved repeat instances of spoiled lo mein. You might ask why I tried lo mein again after it was spoiled once. Well, I suppose its because I had faith–albeit unwarranted–in the quality of product served at a place that follows general health and safety regulations (which I now know it doesn’t). And although the lo mein is nothing other than noodles and hoisin sauce, there is something about a consistently mediocre meal that I can count on when in a rush. Regardless, I once found myself in Busy Chef again looking for a quick meal, and I said to the “Busy” Chef himself, “excuse me, when was this lo mein made.” He replied “everything we have here is fresh,” and I said “yeah, but I just recently had some spoiled lo mein here, and want to make sure this is fresh.” In the next few minutes this “Chef,” as we so generously call him, tried to convince me that this was simply not true, and that I must have been mistaken. This spoiled lo mein had compromised my health twice, mind you, and I promptly decided to never return to this establishment. Oven, I think, is a more complicated issue. The staff there, at least when I went two months ago, were quite pleasant. The wine list was fantastic, and the short beer list was quite impressive. The food was pretty good: certainly not great, and I do agree with past posters that the food would be a whole lot better if they made their own dough or sauce. The owner Chris is a really nice guy, and spent considerable time and energy to pour our wine, and to talk about how we might make the best food parings. My meal, in fact, was quite pleasant until I saw the “Busy Chef,” whose name I have recently ascertained is Dan, peering his unscrupulous eyes out from the hallway. Finally I was able to put two and two together, realizing that low-quality product was not just representative of the neighborhood, but was far more insidiously a part of Dan’s food regime. Now for Uncommon Grounds: I don’t know whether it is still closed, but I remember talking to a group of staff there that were far from happy about their disposition. Essentially, they were told that they could either work at the Blue Pig or Busy Chef, or leave. Sounds like a healthy work environment to me. From what I was able to learn during a short encounter with an employee there, it seems that Uncommon Grounds is changing into a wine bar, maybe still serving coffee, but definitely focusing on the night-time aspect of business. The name won’t change because the owner–you guessed it, Dan–wants to stay within the good graces of the community. Well I am finally putting my foot down. I want to support my area, but I will not support one big business that feigns integrity. All the best to Chris at Oven, and the staff at all of these establishments that have had to put up with the person who has had perhaps the most devastating effect on our community.

  • Pizza Gum-Shoe

    If anyone out there graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1997 and/or worked at Esca (Mario Battali’s fish restaurant) at its initial status, please let us know if you ever ran into Dan Kaufman, the terrorist who is running the kitchen as Busy Chef and Oven. The man needs to be committed. He is a hack, a liar and full on discredit to the culinary world. He passes off Stoffer’s eggplant parmigian as his own. Swears that those chips-a-hoy were home-made and guarantees that everything is made fresh on the premises everyday. Dan, you are full of the same think that you pawn off to the customer’s each and every service. Give up, you have lost the battle against cuisine. You cannot serve bread plates with olives in oil, and garnish with edible orchids, you’re insane. Either jump into the river and swim to some retirement home in Florida where people on their last legs will most likely eat anything, or just jump in the river and rid us of your distasteful and dishonest presence. You have my permission to shuffle off this mortal coil…or noodle, which ever you like.

    Chris the owner is a great man, who happen to be tricked by this vapid individual, I wish him luck in his next endeavour, which I’m sure will be wildly successful.

  • Qfwfq

    Ha! Attended CIA and worked at Esca? Is that what he’s claiming these days?

  • JGirl

    wow, is it really that bad over there? is dan that much of a nightmare?

  • samantha

    wow is right. look at the mess he left behind at his last place:

    (and this wasn’t that hard to find. be sure to look at both pages. for those who have sensitive ears, be aware there is some profanity)

  • JGirl

    Damn, is that all true? Can anyone prove that stuff? I just find it so odd that someone who puts up such a front really has all that behind it. And he’s ‘cooking’ food that we eat! Ick…

  • nabeguy

    All I can say is that DK seems to be the first one at the BC at 6:30 in the morning and the last one to leave at 11:00 at night. That kind of stamina dayy after day can only come out of a vial with a spoon attached.

  • JGirl

    wow! samantha – that was quite a link! how has the law not caught up with this guy yet??
    and is the food really that crappy? i thought about trying it but now i’m definitely reconsidering…

  • Simon

    JGirl – I don’t think being an (alleged) jerk is illegal.

  • JGirl

    oh i know but if you read the link samantha posted, he’s doing coke and stealing money. surely you’d consider that illegal…

  • Simon

    Rumors, hearsay. I wouldn’t believe everything I read on the internet.

  • JGirl

    regardless of whether or not you believe it, his whole operation still sounds shady. i know people who have been to his establishments and agree with the postings on here…not positive reviews.

  • JGirl

    I reluctantly tried the cheeseburger pizza at OVEN. The pizza itself was good (love the added pickles!) albeit VERY greasy. Didn’t have the ‘pleasure’ of meeting this Dan character, though…


    yeah, dan and oven/busy chef are real gems…

    (i’m hoping people note the sarcasm)