Now, I'm no Escoffier, but I do consider myself pretty good at rattlin' the old pots and pans. Bastille day is even an excuse for a slap up do around our house. We dont, however, eat out in fancy pants restaurants all that much, and one of the reasons, according to my wife, God bless her, is that the food is frequently a disappointment compared to what we get at home. In our way we are foodies though, (I get teased relentlessly for being a food network fan) so it was with much anticipation that we headed off to a charity dinner at Del Posto a week or so ago. Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich are going to cook for us. This is going to be sensational, right? Wrong. Really, really wrong.
Cocktail hour. I love this part. All those toothsome little niblets one after the other, it's practically a tasting menu, and the first thing I spot is a deep fried risotto ball. Now how can that be bad? I'll tell you how; dump a whole bucket of salt into the mix and dont bother to taste it before you send it out. I'm not talking a bit to salty, this is just awful, and the fact that no one caught this seems like a serious quality control issue. Other lesser disappointments included minute undercooked shrimp, and the usual assortment of microscopic servings of, say, tuna tartare perched pretentiously on the edge of a potato chip. Where's a pig in a blanket and a bowl of whole grain dijon when you need it?
We take our seats and are served a fairly good but not outstanding raviolo, an ok salad that should have been hanging on the wall (dont get me wrong; I like presentation, I just like taste better) and now we're into the main course; steak or fish. I go for the "seared halibut". Now, we all know what a sear is. I'm expecting a lovely browned, er, I mean, caramelized piece of fish, a little bit of crunch on the outside, soft and succulent inside. What I get is more like boiled, and what's more, it should have been boiled for a couple more minutes. It's also unsauced and tasteless, watery in some odd way, and very badly in need of some of the salt that went into the risotto balls. Too bad, there are no salt or pepper shakers on the tables. Dessert was entirely forgettable. I mean it; I've forgotten what it was.
I go to a few of these kind of things and have some appreciation of the difficulties of serving up decent hot grub to 200 people all at the same time. I frankly expect spotty food at, say, Cipriani's, but at a real restaurant, especially one this size, isnt serving up decent hot grub to 200 people an essential part of the job description? Cipriani's, it turns out, does it better. The next night we ate in. Spaghetti Bolognese; delicious.
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