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Manhattan

Babbo at the bar -- Review -- long

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Babbo at the bar -- Review -- long

Simon | Apr 22, 2006 11:46 AM

Yum.

So being a foodie who had never been to Babbo had been getting to be like being a film buff who'd never seen the Godfather...granted, i usually eat at French and Japanese places, but i was still mildy embarassed when Babbo would come up in foodie conversation ("Uhh, i've been to Lupa and Esca" -- "I've seen Parts II and III?!")...so last night i decided to get caught up, and i dined at Babbo's bar...

When i got there at 5 minutes til 5, there were already 9 people in line in front of me...but since most of them opted for bar tables, there was no trouble snagging a seat at the bar...service was polite and professional, albeit less welcoming than i like...the bartender asked what i'd start with to drink, and when i asked him to put in an order for the octopus starter first and figure out the wine afterward, he politely but somewhat coldly suggested that the restaurant prefers to put in the entire food order at once...eh...a little mercenarily table-turning i thought, especially at 5:05 pm, but i decided to go with the program: and i asked him to pick three from of the 5 or 6 antipasti that most intrigued me, and serve them in whatever order he thought best...

i know next to nothing about Italian wine, so i asked for help there too: he gave me tastes of two whites, both of which i hated: the first was too acidic and appley, the second tasted like water...so i had a glass of the rose, which was perfectly pleasant and worked w/ all three dishes (though nowhere near as nice to mine own palate as the French roses i normally drink). Later on, i was given a taste of Sauvignon Blanc which i liked better than either of the first two whites; but overall the wine tasting served to confirm for me what i've always suspected from previous Italian waste tasting: that, personally, i indeed prefer French, California, and Oregon wine to Italian...

Food. Pretty wonderful. The octopus is tender, w/ fava beans and limoncello vinagrette, the sweetness of which off set the bitterness of the octopus nicely. Next i had the asparagus w/ duck egg and parmesean. The asparagus was dark-medium green and cooked perfectly: crisp yet without a hint of toughness. But the duck egg was slightly off. Having bought duck eggs a few times at the UnionSq Farmers Market, i know they are a little tricky to cook. The one at Babbo needed about 30 seconds more in pan: not because of the yolk, which is fine and rich when it's all runny, but because with duck eggs, the albumen in the white has a gelatinous (or choose a nastier adjective) consistency when it's undercooked. Still a tasty dish though. And, i finished with the Roasted Porcini w/ pancetta and arugula. This was a homerun. The pancetta is wrapped around the mushrooms: meaty, robust, amazing, and the salad w/ balsamic and crunchy sea salt is a perfect foil. I'm still dreaming about this dish.

Total cost: 57 plus tip. For one of the best meals i've had recently. I plan to go back frequently.

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