After waiting many months for the new Batali restaurant to open, I excitedly made a reservation for dinner last night soon after the number was made public. Having had many wonderful experiences at Babbo, Casa Mono ect...I came into the restaurant with great expectations. Unfortunately, the experience I had was quite unremarkable, bordering on extremely bad.
My girlfriend and I arrived around twenty mintues early for our 9:30 reservation hoping to have a drink before dinner. After being politely greeted by the hostess, we were escorted to the bar and told that they would grab us when our table was ready.
The entire room is massive and quite attractive. The bar itself is large with nice spacing, in a seperate area then the main dining room. Within that lounge are probably 10 or so large tables which I'm assuming are for walk-ins.
The bar area was pretty empty when we first ordered drinks, but by 9:20 all of the seats were filled with the other 9:30 parties. After noticing the bar area starting to empty out once again, I glanced at my watch and realized it 9:45, which made me realize how hungry I actually was.
Knowing that this was the second day they were open, I walked up to the hostess and inquired into when she thought we would be seated. She apologized and said that people were lingering at our table and it would only be a few more minutes. I retreated to the bar and told my famished girlfriend the good news.
By 10:05 we were the last people at the bar, causing me to wander back over to the hostess stand. Joe Bastianich was manning the stand and apparently already knowing of my plight, he quickly said that the table will be ready in a minute or two and that he will grab me when the table was ready.
10:30 arrives. We are still sitting at the bar. My girlfriend hates me. I learn not to joke around with a starving female. She wants to go grab some pizza. I turn my attention to staring at the hostess stand; they do not seem as hungry as my girlfriend.
A manager approaches me at 10:35 and and apologizes for the delay. I tell him that that we are hungry. He offers us a glass of cava, I turn him down and say that cava is not food, which is what we really desire. He promises he will get us a table. We sit down at 10:45, he comped our bar tab.
In case you were curious, we now ordered food.
Trying to focus on apps and pastas, we ordered the veal sweetbreads and seafood salad as starters. Followed by the spaghetti with crabs, scallions, and jalapeno, ravioli di brasato with brown butter and thyme and the Tagliatelle Verde al Ragu Bolognese. And we then split the Grilled Pork Chop with Cipolline and Cardoon Puree.
They intially brought out an amuse of a fried sweet potato round with lemon juice. This was not a way to start a meal, as this dish was barely edible.
The apps came out, the sweetbreads were as always great, the portion was quite small, more similiar to a portion at Daniel or Bouley than to what I've come to expect at Babbo, but this is their attempt at 4 stars so all the power to them. The seafood salad was ok, a few pieces of squid, a large shrimp and a few pieces of lobster claw meat in an unagressively seasoned vinaigrette.
The pastas were the highlight of the meal, the spaghetti with great, flavors of crab and jalapeno blending wonderfully. The tagliatelle was equally great, exactly what one would expect. The worst of the pastas was the ravioli di brasato, which I was just quite boring, the filling not having much flavor and it being sauced with a bland brown butter.
The pork chop arrived surprisingly off the bone, five thin strips of very well cooked and quite flavorful pork goodness. The accompaniment of cardoon puree did not benefit this dish, but that may just be my palate.
Got the check and walked out at just about 1 o'clock in the morning.
So obviously I did not have a very good experience at Del Posto. While understandbly one shouldn't expect restaurants to be firing on all cylinders so soon after their opening, I did walk into Del Posto with high hopes. Bastianich and Batali are by all accounts hoping for 4 stars from this establishment and with that in mind certain expectations should be met. Four star restaurants are not simply about food, but an overall experience as well which involves superlative cuisine combined with exquisite service. I certainly did not receive either on my visit to Del Posto.
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